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OSMANIA UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 

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This book should be-eturned t>n or before the 





Government of Bengal 

Report of the 

Land Revenue Commission 

Bengal 

Vol. I 

With 
Minutes of Dissent .* 



Superintendent, Government Printing 

Bengal Government Press, Alipore, Bengal 

1940 



No. C. 2369. 

FROM SIR FRANCIS FLOUD, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., 
Chairman, Land Revenue Commission, Bengal, 

To THE SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNMENT OF 
BENGAL, REVENUE DEPARTMENT. 

Calcutta, the 21st March 1940. 

SIR, 

I have the honour to forward herewith the final report 
of the Land Revenue Commission which was appointed by the 
Government of Bengal on the 5th November 1938. The report 
lias been signed by all the members subject in some cases to notes 
of dissent on particular points. 

The Commission as a whole desire to place on record their 
high appreciation of the services of the staff placed at their 
disposal. In particular it has been of the utmost advantage to 
have had the services of Mr. M. 0. Carter, M.C., i.c.s., as 
Secretary and a member of the Commission. He has under- 
taken fche general conduct of the work of the Commission, the 
summoning of witnesses and arrangement of our tours and he 
has been mainly responsible for the drafting of the report. 
In all these respects he has done admirable work and his 
intimate knowledge of every aspect of the land revenue system 
has been of the greatest possible value at every stage of our 
proceedings. 

Mr. S. B. Hatch-Barnwell, i.c.s., who was attached to the 
Commission as a Special Officer to act as Private Secretary to 
the Chairman, has also done good work in recording the 
discussions at the meetings of the Commission. 



11 



The Assistant Secretary, Mr. S. Das Gupta, has rendered 
excellent service in collecting and tabulating the large mass of 
statistical material required by the Commission and during the 
recess last summer he was in charge of the office and was 
responsible for arranging the evidence which had been collected 
and obtaining additional statistics on many matters. 

Of the other members of the staff, the Head Clerk, Maulvi 
Syed Hashem AH, and the two stenographers, Babu Jatindra 
Narayan Bose, and Mr. K. Ramaswami, deserve special com- 
mendation for the efficient manner in which they have carried 
out their duties and their readiness to work long hours whenever 
needed. The Commission desire that their appreciation of the 
services of all members of the staff should be brought to the 
notice of Government. 

I have the honour to be, 

SIR, 
Your most obedient servant, 

Sd. F. L. C. FLOUD, 

Chairman. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS. 
VOLUME I. 

PARA. PAGE. 

Forwarding letter . . . . . . . . i 


Introductory. 

1. Personnel ., .. .. .. 1 

2. Preliminary work . . . . . . . . 1 

3. Madras tour . . . . . . . . 1 

4. Recording of evidence . . . . . . 2 

5. Recess work . . . , . . . . 2 

6. Additional appointments . . . . . . 2 

7. Punjab and United Provinces tours . . . . 2 

8. Concluding stages . . . . . . . . 3 

9. Appendices . . . . . . . . 3 

SCHEME or THE REPORT. 

10. Terms of reference . . . . . . . . 3 

11. Need for historical introduction .. .. 4 

12. Subsequent sections of the Report . . . . 4 

Chapter I. 

THE LAND REVENUE SYSTEM OF BENGAL. 

13. Land systems . . . . . . . . 5 

14. Revenue and rent . . . . . . . . 5 

15. Revenue as a share of the produce . . . . 6 

SYSTEM OF LAND TENURE UP TO THE MOGHUL PERIOD. 

16. The earliest period . . . . . . . . 6 

17. The early Hindu period . . . . . . 7 

18. Period of Chandra Gupta . . . . . . 7 

19. Individual ownership in Bengal . . . 8 

20. Growth of kings or chiefs . . . . . . 8 

THE MOGHUL PERIOD. 

21. Existing system maintained .. .. .. 9 

22. Share claimed by the State . . . . . . ' 9 

23. Todar Mai's system . . . . . . 10 

24. No measurement in Bengal . . . . . , 10 

25. Subsequent increases of revenue . . * . 10 

26. Position of the cultivators .. .. .. 11 



IV 

PARA. BlSE OF THE EAST INDIA COMPANY. PAGE. 

27. Early acquisitions .. .. . . .. 11 

28. Grant of the Dewani . . . . . . 12 

29. Appointment of supervisors . . . . . . 12 

30. Direct collections .. .. .. .. 12 

31. Short ;fcerm settlements .. .. .. 13 

32. Pitt's India Act . . . . . . 13 

33. Controversy over the zamindar's status . . . . 13 

34. Different classes of zamindars . . . . . . 14 

35. Position of the raiyats . . . . . . 14 

36. Enhancibility of rents .. . . .. 15 

37. Fixity of rent considered .. .. .. 15 

38. Expectations of the authorities . . . . 16 

39. Failure of these expectations . . . . . . 16 

40. Raiyats at fixed rates . . . . . . 16 

SUMMARY OF RIGHTS. 

41. The State .. .. .. ..17 

42. The zamindars . . . . . . . . 17 

43. The raiyats .. .. .. ..17 

THE PERMANENT SETTLEMENT. 

44. Its terms . . . . . . 18 

45. Reasons for a zamindari settlement . . . . 19 

46. Reasons for a permanent settlement . . . . 19 

47. Shore's proposal for temporary settlement . . , . 20 

48. Permanent Settlement's immediate objects achieved . . ' 20 

PERIOD FROM 1793 TO 1859. 

49. Failure of the Patta Regulation . . . . . . 20 

50. Subsequent insecurity of revenue . . . . 21 

51. The "Haptam" and "Panjam" . . . . 21 

52. Report of the Select Committee of 1812 .. .. 22 

53. Contrary official views . . . . . . 22 

54. Regulations of 1822 . . . . 22 

55. Report of Select Committee of 1830 . . . . 23 

56. Necessity of tenancy legislation . . . . 24 

57. Summary of period 1793 to 1859 . . .. 24 



PARA. PERIOD FROM 1859 TO 1938. PAGB. 

58. Chief provisions of the Bent Act . . . . 25 

59. Defects in the Act . . . . . . 25 

60. Agrarian disorders . . . . . . 26 

61 . Proposal to amend Tenancy Law . . . . 26 

62. Tenancy Act of 1885 . . . . . . 26 

63. Discussions regarding transfer . . . . . . 27 

64. Discussions regarding subletting . . . . 27 

65. Discussions regarding enhancement . . . . 28 

66. Proposals to amend the Act of 1885 . . . . 28 

67. Chief provisions of the 1928 Act . . . . 29 

68. Chief provisions of the 1938 Act . . .. 29 

69. Rights of under-raiyats in 1885 . . . . 29 

70. Failure to limit rent or prevent subletting . . . . 30 

71. Rights of under-raiyats in 1928 . . . . 30 



Chapter II. 

BETENTION OB ABOLITION OF THE PERMANENT SETTLEMENT. 

72. Loss resulting from fixity of revenue . . . . 31 

73. Amount of loss uncertain . . . . . . 31 

74. Gain from indirect taxation . . . . . . 32 

75. Administrative advantages . . . . . . 32 

76. Administrative disadvantages . . . . 33 

77. Social and economic results . . . . . . 33 

78. Effect of subinfeudation . . . . . . 33 

7(i Conclusion . . . * . . 34 



DEFECTS OF THE PRESENT LAND REVENUE SYSTEM. 

80. Financial loss . . . . . . 35 

81. Absence of contact with the cultivators . . . . 35 

82. Absence of agricultural improvement . . . . 35 

83. Criticism by Government of India . . . . 36 

84. Evils of subinfeudation . . . . . . 36 

85. Administrative defects . . . . . . 38 

86. Absence of remission of rent . . . . . . 38 

87. Increasing loss of occupancy rights . . . . 38 

88. Accumulation of arrear rents . . . . . . 39 



VI 

PARA. MINORITY VIEW. PAGE. 

89. Economic position not due to land system . . . . 39 

90. Cultivators will not benefit by State acquisition . . 40 

91. Social dangers .. .. .. ..40 

92. Economic dangers . . . . . . 40 

93. Danger bf rent reduction . . . . . . 41 

MAJORITY VIEW. 

94. Raiyatwari system the aim . . . . . . 41 

95. Advantages of State acquisition . . . . 41 

96. Conclusion . . . . . . 42 

97. The constitutional position . . . . . . 42 



Chapter III. 

ACQUISITION OF ZAMINDABJS AND TENURES. 

98. All grades of tenures should be eliminated . . 44 

99. Payment of compensation obligatory . . . . 44 

100. Principles of assessing compensation .. .. 44 

101. Rates of compensation .. .. .. 45 

102. Payment in cash or bonds . . . . . . 45 

103. Revision of record -of- rights essential . . . . 46 

104. Arrear rents . . . . . . 46 



SPECIAL CLASSES OF ESTATES AND TENURES. 

i 

105. Waqfs, Debattors and other trust estates . . . . 47 

106. Other religious grants . . . . . . 48 

107. Fee simple estates . . . . . . 48 

108. Temporarily settled estates managed by Government . . 49 

109. Tenure-holders in khas mahals . . . . 49 

110. Khas lands and homesteads .. .. .. 49 



ACQUISITION OF CERTAIN RAIYATI TENANCIES. 

111. Intention of the fifth term of reference . . . . 50 

112. Arguments against acquisition . . . . . . 50 

113. Arguments for acquisition . . . . . . 50 

114. Decision and financial effect . . . . . . 51 



Vll 
PABA. PAGE 

FISHERY RIGHTS. 

115. Need to consider acquisition . . . . . . 52 

116. Reasons for acquiring fishery rights .. . . 52 

117. Basis of assessing compensation .. .. 53 

MINERAL RIGHTS. 

118. The legal position .. .. .. ..53 

119. Reasons for acquiring mineral rights .. .. 54 

120. Estimates of cost . . . . . . 55 

121. Recommendation . . . . . . 55 



COST OF STATE ACQUISITION. 

122. Estimate of assets . . . . . . 56 

123. Basis of calculating net profit . . . . . . 57 

124. Cost of State management . . . . . . 58 

125. Remissions, irrocoverables and sinking fund . . 58 

126. Cost of revising record -of- rights and constructing buildings 58 

127. Synopsis . . . . . . 58 

128. Calculation of financial results . . . . . . 59 



SPECIAL FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS. 

129. Arrear rents . . . . . . 60 

130. ^Reduction of high rents .. .. .. 61 

131. Decrease in stamp revenue .. .. .. 61 



132. Temporary settlements . . . . . . 61 

133. Release of Court of Wards estates, etc. .. .. 62 



AGRICULTURAL INCOME-TAX, OR CESS. 

134. Why suggested .. .. .. ..62 

135. Agricultural income-tax . . . . . . 63 

136. Agricultural cess . . . . . . 63 

137. Recommendation . . . . . . 64 

138. Summary . . . . . . 64 



V131 
PABA. PAGE. 

Chapter IV. 

TRANSFER AND SUBLETTING. 

139. Maintenance of direct relations with the cultivators . . 66 

140. Subiitfeudation below the raiyat . . . . 66 

141. Criticism of tenancy legislation .. .. 67 

142. Effect of 1928 Act on bargadars . . . . 67 

143. Advantages of barga system . . . . . . 68 

144. Disadvantages of the system . . . . . . 68 

145. Considerations in proposing rights for bargadars . . 68 

146. Recommendation . . . . . . 69 

147. Difficulty of preventing subletting . . . . 69 

148. Recommendation under State landlordism. . .. 70 

149. Ad interim recommendation . . . . 70 

150. Transferability . . . . . . 70 

151. Suggestions for restricting transfer .. .. 71 

152. Conclusion . . . . . . 72 



Chapter V. 

ECONOMIC CONDITIONS IN BENGAL AND THE PROVINCES VISITED. 
CAUSES OF ECONOMIC DIFFICULTIES. 

153. Pressure of population .. .. ..74 

154. Subdivision of holdings .. .. .. 74 

155. Impracticability of preventing subdivision .. .. 75 

156. Uneconomic holdings . . . . . . t 75 

157. Fragmentation and consolidation . . . . 75 

158. Fall in prices . . . . . . 76 

EXAMINATION OF STATISTICS FOB BENGAL. 

159. Absence of scientific statistics . . . . . . 76 

160. Statistics of yield : how prepared . . . . . . 77 

161. Statistics of acreage: how prepared .. .. 77 

162. Yield of paddy departmental estimates .. .. 78 

163. Handom sampling surveys . . . . . . 79 

164. Other evidence of yield .. .. .. 79 

165. No general decrease of fertility .. .. .. 80 

166. Low yield in Bengal . . . . . . 81 



IX 

PARA. PAGE, 
ECONOMIC FACTORS IN BENGAL,. 

167. Total value of crops .. .. .. ..82 

168. Cost of cultivation . . . . . . . . 82 

169. Average size of holdings . . . . . . 83 

170. Average family income . . . . . . 84 

171. Subsidiary income . . . . . . 85 

172. Size of an economic holding . . . . . . 85 

173. Uneconomic holdings . . . . . . 86 

174. Economic conditions in different classes of estates . . 87 

RENT AND ECONOMIC CONDITIONS IN MADRAS. 

175. Level of rent in Madras Presidency .. .. 87 

176. Subinfeudation and rents of sub -tenants . . . . 88 

177. Question of restricting transfer .. .. .. 88 

178. Homesteads . . . . . . 89 

179. Average size of holdings . . . . . . 89 

180. Value of the produce . . . . 89 

181. Irrigation . . . . . . 90 

182. Agricultural debt and land values . . . . 90 

183. Unemployment of cultivators .. .. .. 91 

REVENUE, RENT AND ECONOMIC CONDITIONS IN THE PUNJAB. 

184. Incidence and assessment of revenue . . . . 91 

185. Water rates . . . . . . 92 

186. Estimate of all charges on land per acre . . . . 92 
187.* Rent of tenants . . . . . . 92 

188. Value of crops . . . . . . 92 

189. Condition of villages . . . . . . 93 

190. Subsidiary income . . . . . . 93 

191. Uneconomic holdings . . . . . . 94 

192. A.. ii, ,11 .:,rdebt .. .. .. ..94 

RENT AND ECONOMIC CONDITIONS IN THE UNITED PROVINCES. 

193. Classes and rights of tenants .. .. ..94 

194. Incidence of rent .. .. .. ..95 

195. Irrigation . . . . . . 95 

196. Value of crops .. .. .. ..95 



PARA. PAGB. 

197. Condition of villages . . . . . . 96 

198. Uneconomic holdings . . . . . . 97 

199. Subsidiary income . . . . . . 97 

200. Agricultural debt .. .. .. ..97 

V 

COMPARISON OF ECONOMIC CONDITIONS AND LEVELS OF KENT. 

201. Economic conditions in Bengal summarised . . 98 

202. Comparison with other provinces . . . . 99 

203. Comparison of level of rents . . . . 99 

204. Conclusion . .. .. ..100 

SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVING ECONOMIC CONDITIONS. 

205. Importance of increasing yield .. .. ..101 

206. Yield of paddy .. .. .. ..101 

207. Increased budget provision necessary . . . . 102 

208. Criticism of policy .. .. .. ..102 

209. Need for rural organisation . . . . . . 103 

210. Agricultural development in the Punjab . . . . 103 

211. Agricultural development in the United Provinces . . 104 

212. Manuring . . . . . . . . 105 

213. Increase of dofasli area .. .. .. 105 

214. Better cultivation of rabi crops . . . . . . 106 

215. Extension of valuable crops . . . . . . 106 

IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE. 

216. Recommendation of the Royal Commission on Agriculture 107 

217. Working of Irrigation Acts . . . . 108 

218. Problem of embankments .. .. .. 108 

219. Drainage and waterways .. .. .. 109 



INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT. 

220. Small scale industries in the Punjab . . . . 109 

221. Demonstration parties . . . . 110 

222. Marketing schemes .. .. .. ..110 

223. Cottage industries .. .. .. ..110 

224. Cottage industries in the United Provinces . . . . Ill 

225. Unemployment of cultivators in Bengal .. .. Ill 

226. Lines of industrial development . . . . 112 

227. Sugar factories .. .. .. ..112 

228. Jute spinning mills .. .. .. ..113 

229. Cotton spinning mills .. .. ..113 



XI 

PARA. PAGE. 

OTHER INDUSTRIES. 

230. Oil mills .. .. .. .. ..113 

231. Tobacco factories .. .. .. ..114 

232. Fruit canning .. .. . . ..114 

233. Silk and lac .. . . .. ..114 



COTTAGE INDUSTRIES AND OTHER SOURCES OF INCOME. 

234. Paddy husking .. .. .. ..114 

235. Other cottage industries .. .. .. 115 

236. Poultry and milk .. .. .. ..115 

237. Marketing organisation .. .. .. 116 

238. Improvement of cattle and milk supply .. .. 116 

239. Improved fodder supply .. .. ..117 

240. Other suggestions . . . . . . 118 

Chapter VI. 

THE NATURE AND ASSESSMENT OF RENT. 

RATES OF RENT AT THE PERMANENT SETTLEMENT. 

241. In other provinces .. .. .. ..119 

242. In Bengal . . . . . . 120 

243. Relation of rent to produce . . . . 122 

CHARACTERISTICS OF RENT IN BENGAL. 

244. Rents mostly lump sums . . . . 123 

245. Competitive rates . . . . . . 124 

24. Varying incidence of rent .. .. ..124 

ASSESSMENT IN OTHER PROVINCES. 

247. System in Madras . . . . . . 124 

248. Resettlements . . . . . . 125 

249. Comments on the Madras system . . . . 126 

250. System in the Punjab . . . . 126 

251. Procedure for determining net assets . . . . 126 

252. Distribution of revenue over assessment circles . . 127 

253. Comments on the system . . . . 128 

254. The sliding scale . . . . . . 129 

255. System in the United Provinces . . . . 129 

256. Comments on the system . . . . 130 



Xll 

PABA. PAGE. 

ASSESSMENT OF BENT IN THEORY. 

257. Economic rent . . . . . . . . 131 

258. Rent as a share of the crop . . . . . . 132 

259. Rent fixed on market values . . . . 133 

260. Competitive rates . . . . . . . . 133 



ASSESSMENT OF RENT IN BENGAL. 

261. Customary rates . . . . . . . . 134 

262. Difficulty of finding a standard of assessment . . 134 

THE EXISTING LAW FOB FIXING RENTS. 

263. Revisional settlements . . . . . . 135 

264. Defects in policy and procedure . . . . . . 136 

265. The prevailing rate . . . . . . . . 136 

266. Enhancements for a rise of prices . . . . 138 

267. Defects of this ground of enhancement .. 138 

268. Applicability to uneconomic holdings . . . . 130 

269. Reductions for fall in prices . . . . . . 140 

270. Fluvial action . . . . . . . . 140 

271. Enhancements for improvements, and by contract . . 141 

OTHEB DEFECTS AND SUGGESTIONS. 

272. Payment of rent in cash or kind . . . . 141 

273. Rent in urban areas . . . . . . . . 142 

274. Appellate authority undei section 104(0) . . . . 142 

275. Period of settlement . . . . . . 143 

RENTS IN PERMANENTLY SETTLED ESTATES. 

276. Periodic revisions not recommended . . . . 144 

277. Fixing of rents in perpetuity . . . . . . 144 

Chapter VII. 

AGRICULTURAL CREDIT. 

278. Geneial observations . . . . . . 146 

279. Co-parcenaiy among landlords . . . . . . 147 

280. Recommendations . . . . . . . . 148 

281. Co-paicenary among tenants .. ,. 149 

282. Maintenance of record -of -rights .. , -. 149 



Xlll 

PARA. PAGE. 

THE POSITION IN MADRAS. 

'283. Debt legislation . . . . . . 150 

284. Land Mortgage Banks . . . . 151 

285. Rural co-operative societies . . . . 151 

286. Marketing societies . . . . . . 152 

287. Debt Adjustment Boards . . . . 152 

THE POSITION IN THE PUNJAB. 

288. Debt legislation . . . . . . 153 

289. Co-operative societies . . . . . . 153 

290. Debt Conciliation Boards . . . . 154 

THE POSITION IN THE UNITED PROVINCES. 

291. Debt legislation . . . . . . 154 

292. Co-operative societies . . . . 155 

THE POSITION IN BENGAL. 

293. Co-operative Societies Bill . . . . 156 

294. Moneylenders Bill . . . . . . 156 

295. Agricultural Debtors Act . . . . 157 

296. Land Mortgage Banks . . . . 158 

297. Co-operative societies . . . . 158 

298. Agricultural banks . . . . . . 158 

299. Recommendation . . . . . . 159 

Chapter VIII. 

REALISATION OF RENT. 

HISTORY OF RENT REOOVEBY. 

300. ' Jurisdiction . . . . . . . . 161 

301. History of certificate procedure .. .. ..162 

RECOVERY IN THE PROVINCES VISITED. 

302. Recovery in Madras .. .. .. ..163 

303. In the Punjab . . . . , . 163 

304. In the United Provinces . . . . 163 

THE POSITION IN BENGAL. 

305. Arrears of lent .. .. .. .. 164 

306. Special procedure under section 148(), Bengal Tenancy 165 

Act. 

307. Effect of Debt Settlement Boards . . . . 165 

308. Criticism of existing proceduie .. .. .. 165 



XIV 

PARA.. PAGE. 

REMEDIES SUGGESTED. 

309. Revised Civil Code Procedure . . . . 167 

310. Certificate procedure . . . . . . 167 

311. Revenue Courts .. ,. .. ..167 

312. Distraint ., . . .. ..168 

313. Payment by money-order .. .. ..168 

RECOMMENDATIONS. 

314. Revenue Courts preferred .. .. ..169 

315. Outline of procedure .. .. ..170 

316. Limitation . . . . . . . . 171 

317. Adverse possession by judgment-debtors . . . . 171 

318. Advantages of system proposed .. .. ..172 

319. Appeals .. .. .. .. ..172 

320. Codification of revenue laws .. .. ..173 

MAIN CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS .. 174 

MINUTES OF DISSENT BY 

Sir Bijay Chand Mahtab, G.C.I. E., K.C.S.I., I.O.M., 183 

Maharajadhiraja Bahadur of Burdwan, and 

Mr. Brajendra Kishore Roy Choudhury. 

Khan Bahadur Saiyed Muazzamuddin Hosain, M.L.C. 257 
Sir F. A. Sachse, c.s.i., C.I.E., and Mr. M. O. Carter, 307 

M.C., i.c.s. 
Dr. Radha Kumud Mookerjee, M.A., P.R.S., PH.D., 311 

M.L.C. 

INDEX. 

VOLUME II. 

APPENDICES. 

VOLUMES III AND IV. 

Replies to the Commission's questionnaire by the 
Landholders' Associations and their oral evidence. 

VOLUME V. 

x* 

Replies to Commission's questionnaire by Government 
and ex -Government officers and their oral evidence. 

VOLUME VI. 

Replies to Commission's questionnaire by the Bar 
Associations and other Associations and individuals 
and their oral evidence. 



INTRODUCTORY. 

Personnel. The Land Revenue Commission was appointed 
by Government Resolution No. 22716-L.R. of the ^th November 
1938, with the following personnel : 

Sir Francis Floud, K.C.B., K.C.M.G. (Chairman). 

Sir Bijay Chand Mahtab, G.C.T.E., K.C.S.I., I.O.M., 
Maharajadhiraja Bahadur of Burdwan. 

Mr. M. 0. Carter, M.C., i.c.s. (Member 5<o////V). 

Khan Bahadur Saiyed Muazzamuddin Hosain, M.L.C. 

Khan Bahadur Maulvi Hashem All Khan, M.L.A. 

Mr. S. M. Masih, Barrister-at-Law. 

Khan Bahadur M. A. Momin, C.I.E. 

Sir Manmatha Nath Mookerjee, KT. 

Dr. Radha Kumud 'Mookerjee, M.A., P.R.S., PH.D., M.L.C. 

Mr. Brajendra Kishore Roy Choudhury. 

Sir F. A. Sachse, KT., c.s.i., C.I.E. 

Mr. Masih did not join the Commission and Sir 
M. N. Mookerjee resigned in January 1939. 

2. Preliminary work. The Commission, assembled on the 
19th November and its first meeting was attended by the 
Hon'ble Sir B. P. Singh Roy, Revenue Minister, Bengal, who 
introduced the Chairman, and outlined the importance of the 
work that lay before the Commission. During the following 
10 day? the Chairman, accompanied by Sir F. A. Sachse and 
the Secretary, toured in the 24-Parganas, Mymensingh, Dacca, 
arifr Bakarganj districts, while the other members began their 
consideration of the terms of reference, and the questionnaire 
which had been drafted by the Commission's office for their 
suggestions. The meetings at the end of November and in the 
first part of December were devoted to discussions on the 
questionnaire, and the list of associations, Government officiate, 
and others to whom the questionnaire should be sent. The 
final form of the questionnaire was approved on the 12th 
December. 

3. Madras tour. Pending the receipt of replies, the 
Commission decided to visit the Province of Madras in 
accordance with the second term of reference, which directs a 

2 



comparison of the general level of rents in other provinces and 
the economic condition of the cultivators in other provinces 
with those of BengaL The Commission spent 11 days during 
the first part of January 1939 in visiting Madras, where it 
met the Hon'ble the Revenue Minister and a number of officials 
and non-officials, and in making enquiries in Chingleput and 
Vizagapatam districts. The first is in the raiyatwari area; 
the second in the permanently-settled area. 

4. Recording of evidence. On its return to Calcutta, the 
Commission began the hearing of the oral evidence from 
Government officials, and from the beginning of March it 
recorded the oral evidence of associations representing the 
landlords, tenants, and bar associations, and that of selected 
gentlemen to whom the questionnaire had been sent. This 
evidence was concluded by the end of March when the 
Chairman left for England. 

5. Recess work. During the recess, the Commission's 
office was occupied with the arrangement of the enormous 
volume of evidence, oral and documentary, which had been 
collected, and later, with the collection of additional statistics 
from all districts regarding the average area in possession of 
cultivating families, the extension of the barga system, and 
other matters connected with the economic condition of the 
cultivators. The Director of Land Records and Surveys was 
kind enough to lend the services of 10 Kanungos to carry out 
enquiries in selected villages of every district during a period 
of four months. 

6. Additional appointments. The Commission re- 
assembled in November 1939. 

On the 17th of November 1939, Government announced the 
appointment of the following additional! members : 

Mr. Abul Quasem, M.A., B.L., 
Mr. Nuruddin Ahmed, B.L., and 
Mr. Anukul Chandra Das, M.L.A., 

in accordance with the announcement made in the Resolution 
appointing the Commission that two more Muslim members, 
and one Scheduled Caste member would be appointed later on. 

7. Punjab and United Provinces tours. On the 16th 
November the Commission left for Lahore and spent 10 days 
touring in the Punjab. At Lahore it met the Hon'ble 
the Revenue Minister and several officials, and then 
visited several villages in the Amritsar, Jhelum and Lyallpur 



districts, which had been selected by the Punjab Government. 
A* similar programme was carried out in the United 
Provinces, where the Commission spent two days at Lucknow 
in meeting .officials and then toured in the Aligarh, Agra, 
Jhansi and Benares districts. 

8. Concluding stages. The Commission returned from 
its tour on the 12th December and held five meetings before 
the Christmas holidays. From January 1940 until the 
conclusion of its work, the Commission examined the evidence 
tendered before it, framed its decisions, and considered the 
draft sections of the report. 

9. Appendices. The Government notification ,!:::!! in.; 
the Commission and containing the terms of reference, 
together with the subsequent notification appointing three 
additional! members will be found in Appendix I. 

Appendix II is the Commission's questionnaire. 

Appendix III is the list of associations, Government 
officers, and other persons to whom the questionnaire was sent, 
showing those who replied and those who did not. 

Appendix IV is the list of witnesses examined in Calcutta. 
Appendix V is the list of places visited, and persons 
examined in Madras, the Punjab and the United Provinces. 

Appendices VI, VII and VIII are the Commission's notes 
on the tours in Madras, the Punjab and the United Provinces 
respectively. 

Appendix IX contains the statistical information which 
has been collected by the Commission. 

The documentary and oral evidence tendered before the 
Commission is contained in the subsequent volumes of the 
report. 

SCHEME OF THE REPORT. 

10. Terms of reference. Our terms of reference direct us 
generally to examine the existing land revenue system of 
Bengal in its various aspects, with special reference to the 
Permanent Settlement; to estimate the effect of the system on 
the economic and social structure of Bengal, and its influence 
on the revenues and administrative machinery of the 
Provincial Government; and to appraise the advantages and 
disadvantages of the existing system. We are also instructed 
in the fifth term of reference to report whether it is practicable 
and advisable for Government to acquire all the superior 



interests in agricultural land so as to bring the actual 
cultivators into direct relation with the Government. 
Whatever may be out final recommendation for the modification 
or improvement of the present land revenue system, we are 
bound to give full! consideration on its merits to the proposal 
to abolish the zamindari system in its entirety. 

11. Need for historical introduction. In order to 
appreciate the reasons for enacting the Permanent Settlement, 
and the various Eegulations which were promulgated in 1793 
and the following years, it is necessary to explain the meaning 
of land revenue and to refer to some of the theoretical aspects 
of different systems of land tenure. 

We propose also to give an account, as briefly as is 
consistent with such a large subject, of the systems of revenue 
administration in the Hindu and Moghul periods, and the 
British period up to 1793; and to set out the conflicting 
views on the relative position and rights of the zamiiulars 
and raiyats prior to the Permanent Settlement. 

12. Subsequent sections of the report. The historical 
account will be followed by a description of the development 
of the system resulting from the Permanent Settlement 
between 1793 and 1859, when the Rent Act was passed; and an 
account of the successive modifications introduced by the series 
of Tenancy Acts from 1859 to 1938. We shall then describe 
the financial, administrative, social and economic results of 
the Permanent Settlement and enumerate what we consider 
to be the principal defects in the land revenue system. That 
will bring us to the central question contained in the fifth term 
of reference, whether or not the present defects can be 
remedied within the framework of the Permanent Settlement 
and the zamindari system. 

We shall state the reasons why the majority of our 
members have come to the conclusion that the solution lies in 
the acquisition of the interests of the zamindars and all grades 
of rent receivers, and shall discuss the financial and other 
aspects of an acquisition scheme. 

The subsequent sections of the report will deal with the 
problems of transfer, subletting, and the status of bargadars; 
the economic condition of the cultivators in Bengal, compared 
with that of the cultivators in other provinces; the possibility 
of improving economic conditions; the theory and method of 
assessing rent; and the possibility of improving agricultural 
credit, and the realisation of arrear rents. 



CHAPTER I. 

The Land Revenue System of Bengal. 

13. Land systems- Practically in all countries there are 
three parties interested in the land: the cultivators, the 
landlord, and the State. In some countries the State has not 
reserved for itself any direct interest in the land. Landlords 
of various types are recognised as the owners of the land, and 
they let it out, usually by contract, to the actual farmers. In 
other countries the State regards itself as the owner of the 
land, and prescribes the terms by which it is held in smaller or 
larger blocks by the actual cultivators. In India by the 
ancient law of the country the ruling power has always held 
itself entitled to a certain portion of the produce of every acre 
of land, unless it transferred or limited its rights thereto 1 . 
Even at the height of their power it does not appear that the 
Moghul Emperors ever claimed a greater interest than this. 
They admitted the right of the occupiers or cultivators to the 
remaining share of the crop, which had to be at least sufficient 
to pay the cost of cultivation and to keep them alive. 

According to most of the recognised authorities on political 
economy, the triple system rState, landlord and cultivator 
has in theory many advantages." "The landlord provides the 
capital for agricultural machinery and development of new 
lands, also the expert knowledge and business organisation 
which a group of illiterate working farmers may not be able to 
providec^The peasant supplies the labour, and thk i3tate holds 
the balance between the two parties and sees that neither 
exploits the other. The State also provides for the maintenance 
of the peace and the administration of justice. 

14. Revenue and rent. It is clear that the State must 
have funds to fulfil its ever- increasing functions, and in a 
country like India, where the land is almost the only source of 
income to the majority of the inhabitants, the State has always 
been dependent for the major part of its income from land. 

All Governments in India have considered themselves 
entitled to a share of the produce, and this share of the produce, 
whether collected direct, or through farmers of revenue, or 
through subordinates or intermediate landlords, is called 
"land revenue". There is no essential difference between land 

1 Preamble to Regulation XIX of 1793. 



revenue and rent. Both are, in theory, a share of the produce, 
or its equivalent in cash. Technically, revenue is the share 
'which the State receives into its own exchequer, whether from 
the tenants holding directly under the Government, or in lump 
sums from the zamindars or landlords to whom has been 
conceded the right to collect it from the actual cultivators. 
What the cultivator pays to an intermediate landlord, or the 
intermediate landlord pays to the proprietor is called rent. 
The difference between the rent paid by the cultivator, and the 
share of it paid into the treasury as revenue, is the profit of the 
landlord or of successive grades of landlords. It may represent 
either the landlord's commission for collection, or the value of 
his interest as proprietor of the soil. 

15. Revenue as a share of the produce. There are many 
theories about the nature of rent to which reference will be 
made in connection with the third term of reference, viz., what 
is the soundest principle for fixing fair rents. It is sufficient 
to note here that though land revenue may be described as a 
tax, whatever its actual incidence may be on any particular 
land, it is theoretically a share of the produce of that land, 
contributed by the occupier to the community. All economists 
have been inclined to treat land as a special kind of property 
because in all developed countries it partakes of the nature of a 
monopoly, of which there can never be an unlimited supply. 

SYSTEM OF LAND TENURE UP TO THE MOGHUL PERIOD. 

16. The earliest period. The first recorded epoch of Indian 
history is the struggle between the Aryans and the primitive 
peoples, whether of Dravidian or Mongolian stock, whose 
ancestors had first brought the lands of India under cultiyation. 
If, as is believed, cultivation began in Africa 5,000 years ago, 
it is probable that in most parts of India the original form c of 
cultivation, which still prevails in the Chittagong Hill Tracts 
under the name of jhum, gave way to continuous cultivation of 
the same lands year after year at a still earlier period. When 
the Aryans came to India, they found the indigenous peoples 
living in communities under tribal or local chieftains. Not all 
the tribes were savages. The Nishada who lived under a 
settled organisation were envied by the invaders for their 
wealth. Besides the flourishing kingdom of Pandya in Madras, 
there were kings and vassal princes in all parts of India. 

The Aryans themselves in their successive waves of invasion 
through the north-west passes of the Himalayas were led by 



chieftains or kings whose functions are thus described in 
Helmolt's History of the World : "They conducted the temporal 
affairs of the tribe and represented them before the powers of 
heaven." Sometimes the king was allowed to be represented 
in religious ceremonials by a "purchita". This was the 
beginning of the separate priesthood, the struggle between 
which and the kings exercised a far-reaching influence on the 
further development of the Aryan people. Though the Aryans 
may originally have followed pastoral occupations, they took 
to agriculture when they settled down in India. They 
dispossessed the original inhabitants of the best lands, and 
either cultivated them themselves, or had them cultivated by 
the non- Aryans as serfs or bargadars. 

17. The early Hindu period. The Kig Veda was written 
about 3,000 years ago, when the Aryans were expanding their 
conquests from the Punjab to the territories of which the 
Ganges was the main river. At this time the village community 
had reached a very high degree of development. The ancient 
Sanskrit hymns and law books show that agricultural methods 
and the agricultural organisation were practically the same as 
at the present day. There were towns and villages and a 
hierarchy of officials. The king was the lord of all, and he 
exacted a share of the crop from every cultivator, and taxes 
from every other class of his subjects. But though he had 
certain powers to dispose of the waste, and to eject cultivators 
who were not doing their duty to the community by cultivating 
properly, it does not appear, in spite of the statements of 
Greek writers to the contrary 1 , that he ever had any right in the 
soil. Hindu sages have said repeatedly that he was not the 
proprietor of the soil. He was entitled to a share of the 
produce* for meeting the common expenses of the community. 

JVtanu said that the land belonged to the person who cleared 
the jungle and brought it under cultivation. The same 
authority says that he could sell, give, bequeath or otherwise 
alienate it at his individual discretion. 

18. Period of Chandra Gupta. The Arthasastra, 
compiled about 323 B.C., gives a much more detailed picture 
of an organised state, In which there was a regular system of 
survey settlement and assessment. There were Crown lands 
cultivated by hired labour or serfs or convicts, or, if this was 
not convenient, by persons paying half of the produce. 

1 Diodorus and Strabo said that all land in India was the property of the king. 
Monahan in his " Early History of Bengal " says that these statements were probably 
a misunderstanding of Megasthenes, page 1 53. 



8 

Independent cultivators paid one-fourth of the produce. There 
were special rates for irrigated lands. The soldiers were, a 
separate class fronTthe cultivators. Like certain classes of 
holy men and large numbers of officials, physicians, veterinary 
surgeons and horse trainers, they held their lands tax free. 

This despription however applies to the Maurya kingdom 
of Chandra Gupta which had its headquarters at Patna. It 
seems that the Aryan influence never extended much beyond 
Bihar and the western parts of Orissa. When the 
Muhammadan conquest began, the whole of the present 
Province of Bengal was mainly Buddhist. There were several 
kingdoms like Kamrup with its capital at Gauhati, Samatata 
with its capital at Jessore, Tamralipta with its capital at 
Tamluk, and Adhra (Orissa), and there were numerous vassal 
kingdoms under them. Their administration was immensely 
inferior to those of the States described above and the remoter 
villages were left untouched by their existence. 

19. Individual ownership in Bengal. The village 
communities, as described by Sir Henry Maine, in which all the 
lands of the village, cultivated or uncultivated, were owned 
jointly, never existed except in certain parts of the Punjab, 
Oudh and Southern India. In Bengal there was no community 
or joint holding in villages, though they may have been subject 
to overlord tenures, with their connected fiefs and minor 
holdings 1 . In Bengal proper the land belonged without dispute 
to the original cultivators, and even when village communities 
found it necessary to strengthen their organisation for the sake 
of protection against outsiders, all that the community, as 
distinct from the individuals it governed could do, was to take 
a part of the produce from each family cultivating land for the 
maintenance of the village officials and the oost of 
administration. f 

20. Growth of kings or chiefs. -Sometimes the headman 
of a village usurped the powers of a community and became the 
virtual ruler of surrounding villages. More often the 
community was obliged to recognise the authority of some 
outside potentate and to pay him tribute 2 . But in no case did 

1 Baden Powell's "The Indian Village Community", page 178. 

2 Chen Han Singh in his "Agrarian Problems in China" (1936) says that in parts of 
China, two rights in land are still recognised. The "skin" right, or right in the soil, 
which remains as a right of occupancy with the cultivators, and the "bone" right, or the 
landlord's right to a share of the produce. He suggests that the latter right originated 
because the village community found it convenient to obtain the protection of a local 
magnate against the extortion of the Imperial tax gatherer by paying him a commission 
or rent. Something similar might have happened in India also. 



9 

the chief, either in the Aryan communities or among the 
primitive tribes, assert a right to the absolute ownership of all 
land. As Baden Powell says "the fact of the king having a 
share of the produce naturally put him in a position to exercise 
a degree of control, the limits of which in fact depended on his 
own sense of what was right. It became a recognised attribute 
of the ruling power that as a matter of custom it had the 
combined right to the share of the produce, the right to the 
waste and the right to transit dues. This aggregate of rights 
from very early Muhammadan times was spoken of as the 
zamindari 1 ." By the time of the Moghul conquest, the old 
State-right, or zamindari, had been magnified into a general 
superior ownership of the entire domain, but the better class of 
even foreign conquerors never conceived of their rights as 
necessarily antagonistic to the concurrent, hereditary, 
permanent and long established right of the old cultivators of 
the soil. 

THE MOGHUL PERIOD. 

21. Existing system maintained. After the Moghul 
conquest of India, instead of distributing all the conquered 
lands among their followers, the conquerors left the occupiers 
in possession, subject to the payment of "khiraj" or land 
revenue, and a poll tax. Theoretically, it might be held that 
all the rights of the zamindars then in existence, whether 
obtained by conquest or otherwise, came to an end. Actually 
the existing system was interfered with as little as possible. 
Not only were the old chieftains allowed to remain, and go on 
collecting and transmitting revenues from the areas under their 
contrqj, but further zamindars came into existence between the 
State and the cultivating raiyats. 

22. Share claimed by the State. In the 16th century Sher 
Khan fixed the share of the produce payable as revenue at 
one-fourth, and attempted to introduce a more regular system of 
assessment and collection; but it was not until Akbar's reign 
that a really detailed system of assessment was introduced by 
his Revenue Minister, Raja Todar Mai. The basis of this 
assessment was measurement, and an estimate of the average 
produce from various classes of land. The State's share was 
fixed at one-third of the average gross produce. Produce rents 
were made payable in cash on the basis of investigations into 

1 Baden Powell's " The Indian Village Community ", page 208 



10 

prices carried put over a period of 19 years. Payment in cash 
was" encouraged, and was "compulsory if valuable money crops 
were grown. * 

23. Todar Mai's system. Under Todar Mai's system, 
Bengal was divided into 19 Sarcars or districts, each district 
being subdivided into a number of parganas, the unit of the 
previous Hinctu system. The assessment was made by reference 
to the actual produce of the soil, but payments in cash were 
encouraged. The total assessment was Rs. 1,06,93,151, but 
this covered besides the Province of Bengal as it is today, the 
whole of Bihar, and part of Orissa. 

24. No measurement in Bengal. There are good reasons 
for believing that Akbar's system of assessment by measurement 
was never applied to Bengal. When Bengal was annexed, 
Akbar maintained the existing system of assessment, which is 
described in the Ain-i-Akbari as "nasaq" a term signifying 
a lump assessment. It is significant that whereas there -are 
figures showing the actual area in bighas of the parganas and 
provinces in the central portion of Akbar's Empire, there are 
no figures for pargana areas in Bengal, Orissa and part of 
Bihar. Probably therefore the revenue derived from Bengal 
consisted of lump assessments, based on what could only have 
been an estimate of the cultivated area, and the assets. 

25. Subsequent increases of revenue. Todar Mai's 
assessment was made for 10 years but remained in force for 76 
years until 1658, when Shah Shuja, the Nawab of Bengal, 
made a new assessment, by which he increased the assessment 
from 107 lakhs to 131 lakhs. Murshid Kuli Khan made a 
further increase to 142 lakhs in 1725. In addition to the 
revenue assessment he imposed three abwabs known As the 
khasnabisi, the kaifiyat, and the taufir. The kaifiyjit 
represented an increment derived from "concealed collections", 
and the taufir was levied on the plea that there were concealed 
lands, to the income of which the State was entitled. At the 
same time he resumed the lands of a large number of jaigirdars. 
He also attempted a system of direct management by removing 
the zamindars, and appointing his own officers to carry out the 
collections. But this attempt was shortlived, and in 1728 
Sujauddin Khan restored the zamindars to possession. 

Between 1740 and 1756,, Alivardi Khan imposed further 
abwabs, including the Mahratta Chouth. The revenue at this 
time amounted to 256 lakhs, of which 119 lakhs consisted of 
abwabs. 



11 

26. Position of the cultivators. The position of the 
cultivators during the Moghul time was substantially the same 
as in the Hindu period. The State's share of the produce had 
been increased from one-sixth to one-third in Akbar's time, 
and generally to a half during Aurangzeb's reign, but otherwise 
there was little change. The old residential cultivators, who 
were called the khudkasht raiyats, had the right Jbo remain in 
undisturbed possession of their holdings, subject to the 
payment of their dues. In effect they had the right which 
subsequent tenancy legislation has called a right of occupancy. 
The share of the crop, or its cash equivalent which they paid, 
was regulated by customary rates known as pargana rates. 
When an increase in revenue was made by the Moghul 
Emperor, or an abwab imposed on the zamindars and farmers 
of revenue, the increase was collected pro rata by them from 
the cultivators. Abwabs were additional impositions of the 
State, and amounted in fact to increases of revenue, although 
they were separately accounted for. They are to be 
distinguished from abwabs in the modern sense of the word, 
which implies an exaction by a landlord from a tenant in excess 
of the rent legally payable. 

The khudkasht raiyats were liable to be evicted if they failed 
to pay their dues, and there is evidence that defaulters were 
sometimes treated with the greatest severity. 

Besides the khudkasht raiyats, there was another class of 
raiyat called the paikasht raiyats. They were the non- 
residential cultivators, who came into the village to cultivate 
temporarily. They had no customary rights and no security of 
tenure, for which reason they generally paid at a lower rate 
than the khudkasht raiyats. 

RISE OF THE EAST INDIA COMPANY. 

3 

27. Early acquisitions. The East India Company first 
came to India as traders, but in 1698 they obtained from the 
Emperor's representative permission to purchase the taluqdari 
rights over the villages of Calcutta, Sutanati and Govindapur 
at a rental of Rs. 1,195-6. For the grant of a sanad they gave 
a present of Rs. 16,000 to the Emperor's representative, and 
as the purchase price they paid Rs. 1,300 to the zamindar 1 . In 
1757 Siraj~ud-doula assigned to the Company 38 villages lying 
to the south of Calcutta, and at the end of the same year Mir 
Jaffar made over a tract of 822 square miles which came to be 

1 A Short History of Calcutta by A. K. Boy, pages 22 and 23. 



12 

known as the 24-Parganas, and the Company became the 
zamindar of this area on payment of Rs. 2,22,958 annually to 
the Nawab. The revenue was transferred in 1759 to Clive as 
his jaigir in return lor services rendered to the Emperor. In 
1765 the grant was confirmed for 10 years, after which it 
lapsed to the Company who held the 24-Parganas revenue free. 
In 1760 Mir^Kasim assigned to the Company the revenue from 
the lands now covered by the districts of Burdwan, Midnapore 
and Chittagong. In defining the power which the Company 
was to exercise he directed in the deed of assignment that none 
of the zamindars or tenants should be dispossessed 1 . 

28. Grant of the Dewani. By the agreement of August 
1765, the Company obtained the Dewani of Bengal, Bihar and 
Orissa, in return for an annual payment of 26 lakhs to the 
Emperor Shah Alam. This meant that the Company became 
the representative of the Central Government and acquired the 
right to collect the revenue from those provinces, though the 
executive and judicial administration remained in the hands of 
the Nawab. The Nawab received an allowance of 53 lakhs a 
year as the necessary expenses of the administration, and for 
the maintenance of his position; and the Company had to 
defray the cost of its military establishment from its general 
revenues. 

29. Appointment of supervisors. For some years the 
Company maintained the revenue system which it had taken 
over and continued to collect the revenue through Muhammad 
Reza Khan, who was appointed Naib Dewan by Clive. Then 
defalcation was suspected, and in 1769 supervisors were 
appointed "to compile a summary history of the ancient 
constitution as compared with the present, and to draw up an 
exhaustive report on the state, the produce and capacity of 
lands, to ascertain the amount of revenues, the cesses r or 
arbitrary taxes, and all the demands whatsoever which were 
made on the raiyats; and prepare a rent-roll from the time of 
Suja Khan downwards". Two Councils were appointed to 
control the work of the supervisors, one at Murshidabad for 
Bengal, and the other at Patna for Bihar. 

30. Direct collections. In 1770 a disastrous famine 
occurred, which is said to have swept away one-third of the 
population and thrown a large part of the province out of 
cultivation. This calamity enormously increased the difficulty 
of making the standard collections of revenue. In 1772, the 

1 Harrington's Analysis, Volume III, page 310. 



13 

Court of Directors decided to remove the Naib Dewan and to 
make direct collections. The supervisors, who had failed, as 
they were bound to fail, to make the exhaustive enquiries 
expected of them, were replaced by a Committee of Circuit, 
who were instructed to tour the province and make settlements 
by auction to the highest bidders for a period of 5 years. For 
the second time, therefore, the claims of the zarilindars were 
completely ignored. 

31. Short term settlements. The new system proved an 
absolute failure. The o^d zamindars and farmers had to bid 
up to a higher revenue than their estates could bear, if they 
wished to retain possession. Speculators stepped in who 
overbid some of the existing zamindars and farmers, and 
could only realise the stipulated revenue by squeezing the last 
farthing out of the raiyats. The result was that at the expiry 
of the period of settlement the estates were left in an exhausted 
condition. Arrears accumulated and the decreasing collections 
of revenue so impressed the authorities in India as well as the 
Directors at Home, that steps had to be taken to evolve a more 
satisfactory system. The policy of short term settlements had 
also led to complaints that the hereditary and proprietary rights 
of the zamindars were being ignored, and this was one of the 
grounds on which Warren Hastings was impeached. 

32. Pitt's India Act. In 1784, Pitt's India Act was 
passed. Section 39 required the Court of Directors "to give 
orders for settling and establishing upon principles of 
toleration and justice, according to the laws and constitution 
of India, the permanent rules by which the tributes, rents and 
services of the Rajas, zamindars, polygars, talukdars and 
other Dative landlords should be in future rendered and paid 
to a the United Company." The Act was followed in Bengal 
by investigations, which were carried out through Collectors 
over several years. These inquiries produced a large volume 
of information regarding the rights of the zamindars and 
raiyats, which was considered by some authorities of the time 
to be sufficient : by others insufficient. 

33. Controversy over the zamindar's status. In the case 
of the zamindars, the question at issue was not the relative 
rights of the zamindars and the raiyats, but the status and 
rights of the zamindars vis-a-vis the State. This question 
was discussed threadbare before the Permanent Settlement was 
enacted, and the discussions culminated in the well-known 
controversy between Grant and Shore. Grant maintained that 



14 

the State had supreme proprietary rights in the soil, and that 
the zamindars were nothing more than agents for collecting 
the revenue. Shore lield that an analysis of the incidents 
attaching to the zamindars' rights, such as heritability and 
transferability, showed that they had a limited but not an 
absolute proprietary right. The conflict of opinion that existed 
then, and ev&n now exists, is largely due to the fact that some 
of the incidents of the zamindars' tenure appear to be the anti : 
thesis of others. For instance, the zamindars undoubtedly 
had heritable rights; yet the more important zamindars were 
required to apply for sanads, or title deeds, on succession : the 
zamindars transferred their property without sanction in some 
cases, though strictly speaking they could only transfer with 
the Government's permission. 

34. Different classes of zamindars. In analysing the 
status of the zamindars, it is important to bear in mind that 
before the Permanent Settlement there were different classes 
of revenue payers. There were, firstly, the original 
independent chiefs, such as the Rajas of Cooch Behar, Assam, 
and Tripura, who retained possession of their territories on 
payment of revenue as tribute to the Moghul rulers; secondly, 
the old established landholding families, such as the Kajas of 
Rajshahi, Burdwan, and Dinajpur, who were de facto rulers 
in their estates, and like the independent chiefs paid a fixed 
land tax to the ruling power ; thirdly, there were the collectors 
of revenue, who had been inducted by the Moghul Government, 
and whose office had tended, after several generations, to become 
hereditary; lastly, there were the farmers, who had been in 
charge of tJieTcollection of revenue after the grant of the 
Dewani, and who had come to be called by the general term 
"zamindar". It is obvious that if a settlement had to be made 
with any one, the first two classes had a strong claim, the thi^d 
class had a lesser claim, and the fourth had virtually no claim 
at all. 

The effect of the Permanent Settlement so far as the 
zamindars were concerned, was to level all classes under the 
same denomination. While the farmers obtained some rights 
as proprietors of the soil which they had never possessed, the 
independent chiefs and the old established landholding families 
were confirmed in the position they had occupied for centuries, 
and even lost some of the privileges they had previously enjoyed 
under the Central Government. 

35, Position of the raiyats. So far as the raiyats were 
concerned it was never the intention to take away any of their 



15 

existing rights : on the contrary it is clear that the intention 
w$s to allow them to go on enjoying the rights which they had 
always possessed by custom. As we have mentioned above, 
the holdings of the khudkasht raiyats were certainly heritable, 
and they were entitled to remain in undisturbed possession, 
subject to the payment of their dues. Whether or not their 
holdings were transferable is a question on which authorities 
differ, but at a time when there was more land than there 
were raiyats to cultivate it, transfers could not have been 
objected to by the zamindars or farmers. 

36. EnhancibUity of rents. Of more importance is the 
question whether rents were enhancible. We have seen that 
enhancements of revenue were made during the Moghul period, 
which had the effect of increasing the pargana rates; and that 
subsequently various abwabs, or State imposts were added, 
which had the effect of increasing the amount paid by the 
raiyats, although they were separately accounted for, and not 
consolidated with the rent. 

Without entering into a technical discussion on pargana 
rates, it can be definitely stated that although the authorities 
were anxious to secure that rents should remain at a level 
which the raiyats themselves recognised as customary, they 
found that so much uncertainty and confusion existed 
regarding the pargana rates, that they were unable to lay 
down any rules that would be generally applicable. The 
inquiries which followed the passing of Pitt's India Act 
showed that the rates differed not only from pargana to 
pargana, but from village to village within the same pargana, 
and that often there were different rates within the same 
village. It is also clear that different rates were payable for 
different crops. For instance, if a valuable crop like sugarcane 
wa$ substituted for a less valuable crop like wheat, a higher 
rate had to be paid. 

37. Fixity of rent considered. Nevertheless the question 
of fixing the raiyats' rent in perpetuity was considered. The 
Court of Directors wrote : "it is an object of perpetual 
settlement that it should secure to the great body of the raiyats 
the same equity and certainty as to the amount of their rents, 
and the same undisturbed enjoyment of the fruits of their 
industry which we mean to give to the zamindars themselves 1 " . 
But no provision to that effect was made in the Permanent 
Settlement Regulations which were enacted in 1793, and the 

1 Court of Director's Despatch of September, 1792. 



16 

reason was that the authorities found it too difficult a task to 
define what w;ere the pargana rates, and the customs governing 
rent. It is also clear from the writings of Lord Cornwallis 
and other authorities that they recognised the dangers of fixing 
rent in perpetuity because the information about the area 
under cultivation, and the system by which rents were fixed 
was very meagre. 

38. Expectations of the authorities. At that time nobody 
thought it possible that rents could be further enhanced 1 ; 
and when there, was more waste land than there were raiyats 
to cultivate it, nobody thought that it would pay a zamindar 
to evict his raiyats. It was expected that security of tenure, 
and security against enhancement would be assured, by 
providing in the Regulations that the rate of rent of khudkasht 
raiyats should not exceed the pargana rate, and that it must 
be entered in a patta to be given by the zamindars to each 
raiyat. Any exactions over and above the stipulated rent 
were forbidden in future, but the abwabs which had .been 
imposed under the later Moghul Governors were allowed to 
remain, and were to be consolidated with the rent, on the 
ground that there had been a rise in the value of agricultural 
produce since they were imposed. 

39. Failure of these expectations. The intention of the 
authors of the Permanent Settlement was therefore to confirm* 
khudkasht raiyats in their existing customary rights, and to 
provide against enhancement beyond the pargana rates and 
against arbitrary exactions. But their intention was defeated 
by the omission to make any definite provisions regarding 
customary right and pargana rates. They hoped that the 
difficulties which they had found in their investigations would 
be resolved in the course of judicial proceedings before the 
civil courts. But the courts found it equally difficult, in the 
absence of express provisions in the Regulations, to decide 
what were the customary pargana rates. 

40. Raiyats at fixed rates. The only exception to the 
general policy of leaving existing rights to be safeguarded by 
custom was made in the case of raiyats, who prior to the 
Permanent Settlement held at fixed rates of rent by contract. 
Their rents were declared to be fixed in perpetuity if they had 
Tield at a fixed rate for 12 years, or in cases where they had 
held for less than 12 years, if they had a contract with their 
jzamindars. 

1 Lord Cornwallis' Minute of 3rd February, 1790. 



17 



SUMMARY OF EIGHTS. 

' 41. The State. We may sum up the rights of the State, 
the zamindars and the raiyats at the Permanent Settlement, 
by saying that the State, although stilli regained theoretically 
in parts of India as the supreme owner of land, has never in 
practice claimed any actual proprietary rights^ in the soil. 
Its claim has been limited to a share of the produce. This 
claim was normally one-sixth under the Hindu Kings; and it 
became one-third under Akbar. 

42. Jhe zamindars. The zamindars in Bengal never had 
an absolute right of property in the soil; nor was it intended 
to give them such rights by the Permanent Settlement. Their 
rights have always been limited by the rights of the raiyats. 
In the great Rent Case 1 , Mr. Justice Trevor described the 
position by saying "The zamindar enjoys his estate subject 
to, and limited by, these rights and interests of the raiyats, 
and the notion of an absolute estate is as alien from the 
Regulations as it is from the ol'd Hindu and Muhammadan 
Law." 

43. The raiyats. From early historical times the rights 
of the cultivators were limited by those of the King, or the 
persons to whom the King had made grants of land. In those 
early days their right was primarily a right to cultivate, and 
they could be evicted for failing to cultivate properly. At 
the time of the Permanent Settlement their holdings were 
heritable, and perhaps transferable. Their rate of rent was 
limited by a customary, but undefined pargana rate, and they 
could be evicted for failing to pay their dues. But their 
rights had become obscured during the latter part of the 
MoghuJ rule by an administration whose ever-increasing 
exactions of revenue were followed by rack-renting of the 
raiyats. The Permanent Settlement omitted to define the limit 
of pargana rates, and thus made the raiyats liable to 
enhancements of rent. But tenancy legislation from 1859 
onwards, as we shall presently describe, white recognising the 
zamindars' right to enhance rents, has given the raiyats 
increasing protection, until today they have a large measure 
of proprietary rights. This is clear from the fact that if all 
the superior interests in land above that of the occupancy 
raiyat were acquired, and compensation paid for them, the 
occupancy raiyats would not, in the opinion of all our 

1 Weekly Keporter, Volume III, Act X, page 29, et seq. 



18 

witnesses, be prepared to pay any part of the compensation 
towards the acquisition of full proprietary rights. There are 
no elements of proprietorship for which it would be worth 
their while to pay anything. 

THE PERMANENT SETTLEMENT. 

> 

44. Its terms. Having given as brief as possible an 
account of the early land revenue systems, and of the events 
that led up to the Permanent Settlement, we must now explain 
exactly what the Permanent Settlement was. It recognised 
that the East India Company, in its capacity of sovereign 
authority, and the zamindars or farmers through whom the 
State's share had been collected, had a joint interest in that 
share of the produce from every acre of land, which was the 
traditional property of the State. It fixed the revenue at 
ten-elevenths of the assets, which left to the zamindars one- 
tenth of the revenue which they paid. In addition, the 
zamindars were to be given the benefit of any future increase 
in the value of the State's share, which might result from the 
extension of cultivation or from other causes, and the State 
promised not to make any demand "for the augmentation of 
the public assessment in consequence of the improvement of 
their respective estates". In other words, the State declared 
that it would for ever afterwards be content with the sum 
then assessed as the cash revenue of each estate, and the 
property that it gave to the zamindars consisted of one-tenth 
of the State's share, plus the increment that might be derived 
from the extension of cultivation or other causes. In addition, 
the zamindars were declared to be the proprietors of the soil, 
and were deliberately given all property rights which could 
not be proved to be an encroachment on the prescriptive or 
customary rights of the tenants. These rights were pot 
defined in the Regulations because on the information then 
available to the authors of the Permanent Settlement, it 
proved impossible to do so. They were content to reserve to 
the State the right at any time to legislate for the benefit and 
protection of the tenants, and to instruct the zamindars to treat 
them with justice and moderation. 

At the same time the zamindars were made liable to have 
their estates sold for arrears of revenue, if the revenue was not 
paid by sunset of the latest day fixed for each instalment ; and 
no excuses, such as drought or famine, were to be accepted 
for non-payment. 



19 

45. Reasons for a zamindari settlement. Before 

proceeding to analyse the effect which the Permanent 
Settlement has had on the finances of the Government and the 
economic and social structure of the Province as a whole, we 
consider it important to state that in the situation which existed 
immediately before the Permanent Settlement, when the East 
India Company was preoccupied with wars outside Bengal, 
when the Mahratta raiders were a constant menace, and the 
country was still suffering from the disastrous effects of the 
famine of 1770, there were very cogent reasons for some form 
of zamindari settlement. The entire absence of maps and 
reliable records of the areas and rent of individual holdings 
made a raiyatwari settlement impossible. Quite apart from 
the difficulties caused by the lack of roads and means 
of communication, the Company had no trained staff capable 
of direct collection from the cultivators. Some form of agency 
for the collection of revenue on contract or commission was 
essential. The only practical alternatives were to collect the 
revenue either through the zamindars, who had hereditary 
connection with particular areas and who had carried out that 
duty for previous Governments, or to appoint an entirely new 
set of professional tax-collectors. The latter system had been 
tried between 1770 and 1775 and had failed disastrously. 
Lord Cornwallis and his advisers therefore preferred to entrust 
the collection to the zamindars, partly because Parliament and 
the Directors had instructed them to give full weight to the 
claims of persons possessed of any degree of proprietary title 
in particular estates, and partly because they thought that the 
zamindars would be a more popular and considerate agency 
on account of their hereditary relations with the cultivators. 

46. t Reasons for a permanent settlement. Once this 
question of policy had been settled, the only question 
was? whether there should be a permanent settlement or a 
settlement for a sufficiently long period to induce the 
settlement-holders to expend capital on the development of their 
estates. The primary object of the East India Company in 
reorganising the revenue administration was to safeguard the 
punctual receipt of the land revenue. For this purpose the 
expansion of cultivation was indispensable, and in the opinion 
of the Government, this object could only be achieved by giving 
to all people interested in the land down to the actual 
cultivator, a sense of security based on a well-founded belief 
that it would be they, and not their superiors, whether the State 
or the landlord, who would reap the benefit of their industry 



20 

and enterprise. Parliament and the Court of Directors, with 
whom Lord Cornwallis agreed, were therefore in favour of 
a permanent settlement. Though they recognised that the 
fixing of the reveitue for ever would in time lead to loss of 
revenue to the State, they thought that Government could make 
up the loss by indirect taxation, and in other ways, from the 
growth of ^prosperity, trade, and industry throughout the 
province. 

47. Shore's proposal for temporary settlement. On the 

other hand, Shore and the local revenue experts realised how 
defective was the material then available for making an 
assessment which could never be altered thereafter, however 
inadequate or inequitable. They realised how much land there 
was in Bengal which could be brought under cultivation within 
a limited period, and they attached more importance than Lord 
Cornwallis to the loss which might result to posterity from 
declaring the revenue fixed for ever. For these reasons, Shore 
recommended a temporary settlement for 10 years. It can be 
seen now that if the Government had, at that time, taken a 
sufficiently long view, a temporary settlement not for 10 years, 
but for a longer period of 30 or 40 years would have 
been adopted. 

48. Permanent Settlements' immediate objects achieved. 

We have to admit, however, that the Permanent Settlement 
did secure its immediate objects. Cultivation did extend and 
the revenue came in with unfailing regularity. It is true that 
judging by the experience of the United Provinces, where 
temporary settlements for long periods have been the rule, the 
advantages which Lord Cornwallis expected from the 
Permanent Settlement were also achieved. In the early years 
of the 19th century cultivation extended just as rapidly as in 
Bengal and the revenue was realised with equal punctuality. 
Nevertheless, it must be admitted, that if in Bengal the revalue 
fixed at the time of the Permanent Settlement was as large a 
share of the actual assets as is generally believed, no temporary 
settlement could have been quite as effective as the Permanent 
Settlement, with its stringent sale provisions, in securing 
realisation of the revenue for the first twenty years. 

PERIOD FROM 1793 TO 1859. 

49. Failure of the Patta Regulation. One of the 

provisions by which it was hoped to assure the customary rights- 
of the khudkasht raiyats was the issue by the zamindars of 
pattas stating the rent payable by each raiyat. But the Patta 



21 

Regulation, as it was called, was a complete failure. The 
zainindars thought it against their interests to limit their 
claims; while the raiyats apprehended that they might 
be evicted at the expiry of the 10 years prescribed by the patta. 
To remove the deadlock which ensued, it was enacted that if 
the raiyats refused to receive pattas which were ip. the proper 
form, a legal tender of the patta might be made by 
the zamindars on a notified date, and when that had been done 
the zamindar could recover the rent claimed from the raiyat 
through the Courts, or by distraint. 

50. Subsequent insecurity of revenue. The effect of this 
provision was to throw on the raiyats the onus of proving what 
were the customary pargana rates, and to produce a huge 
volume of litigation, with which the Courts were unable to 
deal. Some of the raiyats abandoned their holdings and looked 
for land elsewhere: others began to withhold payment of rent. 
In the confusion that followed, Government's revenue became 
endangered, and the zamindars complained that unless their 
hands were strengthened, they could not collect their rents, or 
pay their revenue regularly. This was no less than the truth. 
The period immediately after the Permanent Settlement, and 
indeed for three or four decades, was one during which the 
zamindars were struggling for their existence against the sale 
law. At that time, one-third of the total area of Bengal 
according to Lord Cornwallis, two-thirds according to 
Colebrooke, and four-fifths according to Grant was 
uncultivated; and the only way in which the zamindars could 
improve their assets was by bringing waste land under 
cultivation. The competition was not for land, but for tenants 
to cultivate it. Consequently if the raiyats withheld their rent, 
or abaifdoned their holdings, the zamindar was hard put to it 
to pay a revenue amounting to ten-elevenths of his assets. The 
records of that period and the Fifth Report show that more 
than half the estates in Bengal were sold for arrears of revenue; 
many of the large zamindaris were dismembered; and most of 
the original zamindars reduced to poverty. 

51. The "Haptam" and " Pan jam 11 . The situation that 
developed led to the passing of the notorious "Haptam" 
(Regulation VII of 1799) by which the zamindars were vested 
with wide and arbitrary powers of distraint. To the 
Government of that time, it was an administrative necessity 
to have a stringent law of distraint in order to safeguard their 
revenue; but it is generally agreed that it was a mistake to arm 
the zamindars with such drastic powers without first enquiring 



22 

into the root cause of the trouble, which was, that the rights 
.of the khudkashj raiyats had been left undefined. The 
"Panjam" (Regulation V of 1812) mitigated to some extent 
the harshness of the "HaptamV provisions for distraint, 
without remedying the real defects. 

52. Report of Select Committee of 1812. In 1812, 

the Select Committee appointed in 1808 by the House of 
Commons produced five reports on the affairs of the East India 
Company, of which the fifth dealt with the revenue 
administration of Bengal. The Select Committee affirmed 
their desire to preserve the ancient law and constitution of 
India, but with regard to the rights of the raiyats, they 
considered that as pattas were being granted by the zamindars 
on such terms as were customary, or mutually adjusted between 
the parties, the intentions and expectations of the Government 
had been fulfilled, because no new Regulations had been 
enacted, rescinding the former regulations. 

53. Contrary official views. It is rather surprising to find 
this conclusion, because it was quite the reverse of the views 
expressed by some of the highest officials of that time. 
Colebrooke, Lord Moira, and others were of opinion that the 
Regulations, however well intentioned, had had the effect of 
destroying in part the customary rights of the raiyats. Their 
views received recognition in a despatch of the Court of 
Directors in 1819, in which the Directors agreed that 
both classes of raiyats, khudkasht and paikasht, were equally 
entitled to Government's protection, and added: "however 
well intended for this purpose, our Regulations under 
the Permanent Settlement have not been effectual to it. It is 
clear that the rights which were actually conferred upon the 
zamindars, or which were actually recognised to exist in tfcat 
class by the enactments of the Permanent Settlement were not 
intended to trench upon the rights which were possessed by the 
raiyats." They agreed that it was necessary to define the 
rights of the raiyats 

54. Regulations of 1822. The Government of India 
proposed in 1822 to enact rules which would allow the 
authorities in Bengal to fix fair rents for the cultivators in 
permanently settled estates, and the Court of Directors in their 
reply again urged the importance of adjusting the rights and 
interests of the raiyats. But these intentions never 
materialised. In the same year, two Regulations were passed. 
One, Regulation VII, provided for the fullest enquiries into 



23 

the rights and conditions of tenure of the raiyats, but 
it* applied only to temporarily settled estates. The other, 
Regulation XI, amended the sale law, and provided that all 
engagements with the raiyats could be annulled, which had 
been entered into subsequent to the Permanent Settlement by 
the defaulting proprietor or his predecessors ^in interest. 
Leases for dwelling houses were excepted, and the prescriptive 
rights of khudkasht, kudimi, or residential and hereditary 
cultivators were protected interests. Previously the law had 
been that all engagements with the raiyats could be cancelled, 
and that the purchaser of an estate could collect from 
the raiyats whatever the former proprietor would have been 
entitled to demand had the engagements so cancelled never 
existed. The change in the law gave rise to the doctrine that 
khudkasht or residential raiyats, whose tenancies originated 
after the Permanent Settlement were a distinct class, liable to 
eviction; or if not evicted, liable to be assessed at the discretion 
of the landlord. 

55. Report of Select Committee of 1830. In 1830 a 

second Select Committee was set up by the House of Commons. 
After recording a large volume of evidence regarding the 
nature, object and results of the Permanent Settlement, the 
Committee came to the conclusion that the benevolent intentions 
of Lord Cornwallis had not been carried into practice. Of 
Bengal they observed : "In the permanently settled districts 
nothing is settled, and little is known but the Government 
assessment"; and they ascribed this lack of information to the 
"error of assuming that the rights of parties claiming an 
interest in the land were sufficiently established by the custom 
and usage of the country to enable the Courts to protect 
individual rights". They pointed out that no measures had 
been taken to limit or define the demand of the zamindars on 
raiyats who possessed a hereditary right of occupancy ; and they 
made the interesting suggestion that Government might acquire 
zamindaris by private or public purchase, in order to protect 
the raiyats' rights, provided that the outlay involved was not 
so great as to prevent the working of such a scheme. 

They were not in favour of interfering between the 
zamindars and raiyats in order to fix fair rents. They 
considered that this would amount to a breach of faith with the 
zamindars; but they made an exception in the case of estates 
which had defaulted in payment of revenue, and suggested that 
instead of selling such estates, Government might attach them, 
and effect a fair and equitable settlement between the 



24 

zamindars and raiyats, founded on the particular tenures and 
local usages of each district. 

They also proposed a thorough reform of the office of the 
patwari, or village accountant. This office, along with that 
of the Kanungo, had been abolished at the Permanent 
Settlement, and the village records had in consequence ceased 
to exist. 

56. Necessity of tenancy legislation. But these recom- 
mendations were never carried into effect. By the middle of 
the 19th century a revulsion of feeling developed against the 
working of the Regulations, and agrarian discontent appeared, 
which compelled the attention of Government. In 1857 a Bill 
was introduced which was originally intended to amend the 
law relating to the recovery of rent. But during the progress 
of the Bill substantial additions were made, with the result 
that the Act which finally emerged Act X of 1859 contained 
for the first time a definition of the right of occupancy, and 
laid down the law between landlord and tenant. 

57. Summary of period 1793 to 1859, The period from 
1793 to 1859 was therefore one in which, administratively, the 
Government were concerned primarily with safeguarding their 
revenue. That is the background of all the legislation which 
was passed until the Rent Act of 1859. But as was pointed 
out by the Select Committee of 1830, the failure to define the 
rights of the raiyats defeated the intention of the Permanent 
Settlement Regulations to preserve the customary rights of the 
raiyats. The amendments that were intended to give relief to 
the raiyats failed for that reason. Regulation V of 1812 was 
intended to mitigate the severity of the distraint law in 
Regulation VII of 1799. Regulation XI of 1822 amended 
Regulation XLIV of 1793 with the object of protecting he 
raiyats, when an estate passed to a purchaser. Both failed in 
their objects, because without a full examination of the raiyats' 
rights, it was impossible to make a complete and satisfactory 
adjustment of the relations between zamindar and raiyat. 
Until the Rent Act was passed, the raiyats were undoubtedly 
left to the mercy of the zamindars, and failed to obtain from 
them the generous treatment which was enjoined by the 
Permanent Settlement Regulations. They were described by 
the Government of India as having been rack-rented, 
impoverished, and oppressed 1 , and it was for those reasons 
that the Government of India intervened on their behalf. 

1 Land Revenue Policy of the Indian Government, 1902, page 6. 



25 

Economically, the period commenced disastrously for the 
zainindars; but as a feeling of security developed, and large 
areas of jungle and waste land were brought under cultivation,, 
the zamindars 5 margin of profit increased, and by the middle 
of 19th century they were far less vulnerable to the sale law. 

* 
PERIOD FROM 1859 TO 1938. 

58. Chief provisions of the Rent Act. The revenue 
history of the period from 1859 up to the present day is 
concerned mainly with the statutory development of rights- 
given to occupancy raiyats, and later to under-raiyats. The 
Rent Act defined the right of occupancy as 12 years' continuous- 
possession of the land in possession of a raiyat. It thereby 
obliterated the older distinction between the khudkasht and 
paikasht raiyats, and made length of possession the criterion 
of occupancy rights. It laid down that rent must be fair and 
equitable, and it recognised the zamindar's right to claim 
enhancements on the grounds that there had been an increase in 
area, that the value of produce had increased, or that the rent 
of a particular holding was below the prevailing rate. 
Reductions of rent could be claimed on the ground of a decrease 
in area or a decrease in the value of the produce. It was also 
provided that ejocfmonl for non-payment of rent could only 
be made through the Courts. 

59. Defects in the Act. The defects in this legislation 
soon appeared. It was decided by the High Court in 1862 
that the right of occupancy entitled a raiyat to the right of 
occupying his holding in preference to any other tenant so long 
as he J>aid a fair and equitable rent. But there was no 
definition in the Rent Act of what was fair and equitable, nor 
w#s there any principle for the guidance of the Courts. 
Another serious difficulty was created by the judicial inter- 
pretation that in order to maintain a claim to occupancy 
rights, a tenant was bound to prove that he had been in 
possession of all his land for 12 years. This interpretation 
appeared to Government to be contrary to the intention of the 
Act, and they entered into correspondence with the Government 
of India with the object of amending the law. The chief 
defects in the existing law were considered to be 

(i) In the absence of village records the raiyats had great 
difficulty in proving possession of all their fields for 
12 years continuously. It had been the zamindars^ 
practice to change the fields in the possession of 



26 

raiyats before 12 years had expired in order to 
prevent their acquiring occupancy rights, cr to get 
them to ^execute leases for periods of less than 12 
years. 

(ii} It was not laid down in the Act what period should 
expire before a claim to enhance rents could be 
entertained. 

(Hi) The landlords had great difficulty in proving that 
there had been an increase in the value of the 
produce, because there were no official price lists. 

(iv) There was no definition of improvements. 

During the next two decades, the Act proved to be in some 
respects unworkable. In Eastern Bengal especially, where the 
value of the produce was increasing owing to the cultivation 
of jute, the landlords found great difficulty in sueing for 
enhancements. The tenants combined to resist the landlords, 
and in some districts they refused to pay their rents. The 
history of the period immediately after the Permanent Settle- 
ment was repeated. Agrarian discontent grew, and for some 
years the amendment of the Eent Act became the subject of 
agitation. 

60. Agrarian disorders. In Pabna district riots occurred 
in 1873, when the Nat ore estate was broken up and purchased 
by five zamindars, who attempted to enhance the rents. These 
riots were the chief reason for the Agrarian Disputes Act, 
which was intended to meet apprehended agrarian disturbances 
by transferring in special localities and for a limited period 
the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts to Revenue Officers. The 
Act was a temporary measure, designed to be supplemented 
later by permanent legislation and it was never actually put 
into force. 

61. Proposal to amend Tenancy Law. In 1876 a Bill was 
introduced by which it was proposed to lay down the principles 
for^fixing rents. This was dropped, and in 1878 a Commission 
which had prepared a Bill for the realisation of undisputed 
arrears of rent recommended to Government that it was 
desirable to undertake a complete revision of the tenancy law. 
The Government of India agreed, and a Commission was 
appointed which presented a draft Bill and a report in 1880. 

62. Tenancy Act of 1885. The Tenancy Act which 
resulted in 1885 was based on this Bill. It repaired the defect 



27 

in the law relating to occupancy rights by enacting that 
raiyat who had been in possession of any land for 12 years, 
either himself or through inheritance, would become a settled 
raiyat of the village, with occupancy rights in the land he 
already possessed, and would immediately acquire those rights 
in any new land which he took into cultivation. t 

The right of a raiyat was made a protected interest in the 
event of his superior landlord being sold up ; he was given the 
right of mortgaging his holding; and of subletting it for a 
period of not more than 9 years. It was also laid down that 
raiyats should not be ejected for arrears of rent, but that their 
holdings must be sold up in the Civil Court. 

63. Discussions regarding transfer. The most difficult 
problems of the Committee centred round the questions 
of transfer and subletting. The majority were in favour of 
making holdings transferable on the ground that transfer had 
already become established by custom. Though in some 
estates the landlords asserted their right to choose their tenants, 
and exacted a fee for recognising a purchaser, in others the 
custom of transfer prevailed without regard to the landlords' 
wishes. The number of registered sales of raiyati holdings, 
both occupancy and mokarari, amounted in 1881-82 to nearly 
34,000, and the purchase money to nearly 34 lakhs. 

The case against transfer was forcefully expressed by Sir 
Richard Garth, who maintained that it would be against the 
best interests of the raiyats, and would lead to the transfer 
of land to money-lenders and others and the reduction of many 
raiyats to the position of labourers. Nevertheless the Govern- 
ment of India agreed to the proposal that occupancy holdings 
should be made transferable. The Secretary of State also 
agreed, subject to the conditions that transfer should be 
restricted to agriculturists, and that the landlords should have 
the right of pre-emption. But the difficulty of defining a bona 
fide agriculturist and other difficulties of drafting ultimately 
led the Commission to leave the rights of occupancy raiyats in 
respect of transfer to be governed by local custom. 

64. Discussions regarding subletting. As regards sub- 
letting one suggestion was that an occupancy raiyat who had 
sublet more than half his land should be treated as a tenure- 
holder, and the occupancy right should pass to his lessee. 
This proposal was dropped because it was reported by most of 
the local officers to be unworkable, particularly on account of 



28 

the difficulty of registering such tenures. Apart from the 
difficulty of fixing any proportion of the total land of a tenancy 
which might be sublet without the raiyat forfeiting his rights, 
the proposal would have involved the creation of a number of 
tenancies with a double status, or, if the portions sublet had 
been made separate tenancies, a large increase in the number of 
tenancies would have resulted. It was eventually decided to 
permit subletting to under-raiyats for 9 years, provided the 
rent did not exceed the raiyat 's rent by more than 50 per cent. 
It was recognised that this restriction would be difficult to 
enforce, but it was preferred to the alternative suggestion of 
limiting the rent to five-sixteenths of the produce. It was 
considered that a share of the produce can never be entirely 
satisfactory as a method of fixing rent. 

65. Discussions regarding enhancement. Enhancement 
of rent was another subject which attracted the attention of 
the Commission. They retained the existing provisions for 
enhancement and reduction of rent in the Act and added two 
more grounds : (i) that the productive powers of the land had 
been increased by improvement effected by the landlord, and 
(ii) that the productive powers had increased owing to fluvial 
action. A decrease of rent could be obtained on the latter 
ground if the soil had deteriorated permanently owing to 
fluvial action. 

66. Proposals to amend the Act of 1885. In 1912 the High 
Court brought to the notice of Government the difficulties the 
Civil Courts were experiencing in administering the existing 
law, specially with regard to transfers, and a Committee was 
appointed in 1921 under the Chairmanship of Sir John Kerr 
to report what amendments were needed in the .Bengal 
Tenancy Act. The Billl drafted by the Committee was 
introduced in the Legislative Council in 1925 and referred'to 
a Select Committee. The Select Committee introduced so 
many changes that Government decided not to proceed with it 
during the lifetime of that Council, and later referred it to a 
small Committee consisting of an ex- Chief Justice of Bengal 
and three officials. This Committee, whose report was 
submitted in July 1927, restored the provisions for conferring 
occupancy rights on under-raiyats and some of the other 
provisions omitted by the Select Committee, but after 
considerable hesitation accepted the proposal of the Select 
Committee that no cultivator, who did not pay a cash rent, 
or a fixed amount of produce as rent, could be a tenant. On 
the basis of their report, the Amending Act of 1928 was passed. 



29 

67. Chief provisions of the 1928 Act. The other rights 
given to occupancy raiyats were : 

(i) holdings were declared to be transferable in whole or 
part, subject to a transfer fee amounting to 20 
per cent, of the sale price, or five times the rent. 
The landlord was given a right of pre-emption on 
payment of the sale price plus 10 psr cent, as 
compensation to the purchaser. He also retained 
the right to levy a fee for the subdivision of holdings 
in the case of part transfers, because the Act did 
not make it incumbent on the landlords to divide 
the holdings in such cases. 

(n) in order to prevent land from passing to mortgagees 
for indefinite periods, occupancy raiyats were 
allowed to give usufructuary mortgages only for a 
period of 15 years. 

(Hi) occupancy raiyats were given all rights in trees. 

(iv) the right to commute rent in kind into a cash rent was 
abolished mainly on the ground of the agitation 
against the proposal of Sir John Kerr Committee 
to give occupancy rights to a certain class of 
bargadars whose rent might then be commuted to 
the detriment of many middle class people. 

68 Chief Provisions of the 1938 Act. The Amending Act 
of 1938 repealed the provision requiring occupancy raiyats to 
pay a transfer fee. Holdings, whether in whole or part, could 
be freely transferred, and the landlord was bound to recognise 
all transfers, and to subdivide holdings if the resulting rent was 
not les^ than Re. 1. The right of pre-emption was taken away 
from the landlords and given to co-sharer tenants instead. 
All provisions relating to the enhancement of rent were 
suspended for a period of 10 years. 

69. Rights of under-raiyats in 1885. The rights of under- 
raiyats were not mentioned in Act X of 1859 because at that 
time their number was so insignificant that it was not thought 
ne'cessary to make any provisions. But in the Tenancy Act of 
1885 it was admitted in section 183 (#) that they might have a 
right of occupancy by custom. Section 48 imposed a limit on 
their rent of 50 per cent, above the rent paid by their raiyat 
landlords in cases where a registered agreement had been 
executed, or of 25 per cent, where there was no written 



30 

agreement. By section 85 the period of leases to under-raiyats 
was limited to 9 years and they could be ejected on the expiry 
of the lease. 

70. Failure to limit rent or prevent subletting- Both 
these provisions faited in their objects. The provision 
limiting leases to 9 years was disregarded. Permanent leases 
w T ere sometimes granted, and in some areas under-raiyats 
began to transfer their holdings, erect homesteads, excavate 
tanks and exercise many of the rights of occupancy raiyats. 
The provision limiting the amount of an under-raiyat's rent 
proved inoperative, because in cases where a raiyat had sublet 
part of his holding, the Courts could not decide what was the 
rent of the particular portion sublet. The legal limit on the 
under-raiyat's rent was thus made applicable only to cases 
where the whole holding had been sublet, and in consequence 
it was easily evaded. 

71. Rights of under-raiyats in 1928. The Act of 1928 

considerably strengthened the rights of under-raiyats. It 
divided them into three classes. Under-raiyats who had 
already obtained rights of occupancy by custom were given the 
full rights of occupancy raiyats, except transferability and 
the right to be deemed protected interests against the superior 
landlord of the raiyat. The second class consisted of under- 
raiyats who had a homestead on their land, or had occupied 
it for 12 years continuously, or had been admitted in a 
document by their landlords to have a permanent and heritable 
right. This class could be ejected if they failed to pay their 
rent, or if they misused the land. The third class of under- 
raiyats could also be ejected on the additional ground that 
the raiyat wanted the land for his own cultivation. When the 
Bill was introduced it contained an explanation that for the 
purposes of this section, cultivation by the raiyat himself did 
not mean cultivation by bargadars. But this explanation w*as 
omitted from the Bill by the legislature. The initial rent of 
under-raiyats was left to contract, subject to the provision 
that it could not exceed one-third of the estimated value of 
the gross produce. But once their rent had been fixed, it 
could only be enhanced under a registered contract by 4 annas-' 
in the rupee. 



CHAPTER IL 

Retention or Abolition of the Permanent 

Settlement. 

It remains to be considered, in connection with the preamble 
to our terms of reference, what have been the financial, 
administrative, social, and economic results of the Permanent 
Settlement, and to what extent they are responsible for the 
present economic situation in Bengal. Having described the 
results of the Permanent Settlement, we shall state what we 
consider to be the defects in the existing land revenue system, 
which have led the majority of our members to the conclusion 
that State acquisition is the only satisfactory solution. 

72. Loss resulting from fixity of revenue. The most 
obvious financial result of the Permanent Settlement is that the 
land revenue, which is the chief resource of Government in an 
agricultural country, has remained almost entirely inelastic for 
150 years. The benefit of more valuable crops and higher prices 
has gone partly to the landlords, when they could increase rents, 
and to the tenants when they could not. More serious, the 
unearned increment due to the growth of towns and the 
development of trade and industries has also been appropriated 
by the few. The mineral resources of the Province, coal being 
the most important, which were not taken into account at the 
time of the Permanent Settlement, or were of no commercial! 
value, have been developed for the benefit of individuals 
without any co-ordinated plan. 

73. 'Amount of loss uncertain. The annual loss in this 
generation resulting from the enactment of the Permanent 
Settlement in preference to a temporary settlement, may be 
estimated at anything between 2 crores and 8 crores. But no 
estimate can be exact, because any guess at the incidence of the 
land revenue at the present day, supposing there had never been 
a Permanent Settlement, would depend on innumerable factors 
on which nobody dare dogmatise. Nobody could say whether 
the zamindars would have been left with 10 per cent, of the 
assets as at the Permanent Settlement, or with 30 per cent, 
as in many of the estates of Bengal now subject to temporary 
settlements, or with 60 per cent, or 75 per cent, as in the United 
Provinces and the Punjab respectively. Nor could it be said 



32 

for what periods these rates would have remained in force ; how 
soon Government would have taken steps to raise the rents of 
the raiyats to a more economic or uniform level ; how frequently 
enhancements would have been made; what proportion of the 
profits from mines would have been left to the operating 
companies; or how much greater the gross profits would have 
been if there had been organised control. 

74. Gain from indirect taxation. On the other hand, the 
defenders of the Permanent Settlement argue that though the 
land revenue has remained low as the result of the Permanent 
Settlement, there has followed a distribution of wealth so wide 
that Government has gained more than it has lost, from other 
taxation which it has been able to levy. It is argued that 
Bengal contributes more income-tax and customs duty than 
Bombay, and that the revenue from court-fee stamps is very 
much greater in Bengal than in other provinces. It is an 
admitted principle that a low level of direct taxation by 
encouraging trade and private enterprise increases the 
opportunities for indirect taxation, and that the people can 
spend their surplus money more profitably than the State, but 
it is doubtful whether all the arguments on this basis have been 
applied correctly to the situation in Bengal. It cannot be a 
good thing for the Province that so large a share of its revenue 
should be derived from litigation. For every rupee the litigant 
agriculturist spends on court-fees, he spends several rupees on 
lawyers' fees, and the State has to maintain an expensive 
judicial organisation. If stamp revenue is reduced as the 
result of any change in the land revenue system in Bengal, it 
will be to the benefit of the people, but the State would have 
to make good the loss by other forms of taxation. Although 
the Permanent Settlement has distributed profits from land, 
which would otherwise have gone to the State, among a large 
body of non-agriculturists, it may be doubted whether 
individually the great majority have ever had sufficient income 
from agricultural sources to contribute substantially to income- 
tax. 

75. Administrative advantages. The administrative 
advantage that Government gained was security of the revenue, 
and its protection by a rigid sale law. No excuses were to be 
accepted for default, and the zamindars were expected to pay 
their revenue punctually in years of flood or drought. 
Government was thus saved the trouble of collecting the rents ; 
and has been able to collect the revenue practically cent, per 
<cent. from the permanently settled area. It also avoided the 



33 

necessity of dealing with natural calamities, until the intro- 
duction of the Famine Code recognised that Government also 
had a responsibility in this respect to the tenants of permanently 
settled estates. 

76. Administrative disadvantages. On the other hand the 
Permanent Settlement became synonymous with a pplicy of non- 
interference in the zamindari estates, and in consequence 
Government officers were much less in touch with the tenantry 
than in provinces managed raiyatwari. No measures were 
undertaken to improve the lot of the cultivators until agrarian 
disorders forced the situation on Government's attention, and 
led to the passing of Act X of 1859. The preparation of the 
record-of- rights, which has been of the utmost value to the 
Province, was postponed until the beginning of this century. 
It has been one of the greatest handicaps that throughout the 
last century the administration has had to carry on without 
any village maps, any record-of-rights, and without the wide 
knowledge of locall conditions and customs which has followed 
settlement operations. 

77. Social and economic results. It is difficult to separate 
the economic from the social results of the Permanent 
Settlement. The promise given by the East India Company 
never to alter the assessment, followed as it was by the gradual 
growth of the zamindars' profits, encouraged subinfeudation 
and brought into existence a body of tenure-holders vastly 
outnumbering the original zamindars. It thus promoted the 
prosperity of, if it did not create, that class in Bengal which 
has had leisure for culture and politics, has provided educated 
men for the professions and Government services, and is 
responsible for alll political progress. The Permanent 
Settlement alone, however, cannot be held to be responsible for 
the* creation of the educated classes. The permanently settled 
part of Madras covers only one-third of the province, yet the 
cultured and leisured class in that province is hardly less 
prominent than in Bengal, and it is not entirely recruited from 
the permanently settled area. In Bombay where there is a 
raiyatwari system, the political classes are just as prominent as 
in Bengal. 

78. Effects of subinfeudation. The development of 
subinfeudation has led to a revenue system of immense 
complexity, particularly in districts like Bakarganj, where as 
many as 15 or 20 grades of tenure-holders are not uncommonly 
found. This chain of middlemen has shifted from one to 

4 



34 

the other the responsibility of collecting rents, and looking after 
the interests of the tenants. The system has severed the 
connection between the zamindars and raiyats in estates where 
subinfeudation exists, and has defeated the intention of Lord 
Cornwallis to establish a landlord and tenant system in Bengal 
on the English model. It has prevented the zamindars from 
fulfilling the functions which provide the economic justification 
for a landlord and tenant system, because with few exceptions 
the tenure-holders immediately above the raiyats have neither 
the incentive nor the capital to effect agricultural improvements. 
The land is nobody's concern. The zamindar cannot today 
obtain an enhancement of rent, even for any improvements 
which he makes, and he feels that he is no longer responsible 
for improvements. The responsibility for agricultural welfare 
cannot be fixed at any particular link in the chain between the 
zamindar and the actual) cultivator. And yet the State cannot 
remain indifferent to what constitutes the primary source of 
the Province's wealth. 

But although subinfeudation below the zamindar has 
developed to a surprising extent, especially in some districts, it 
undoubtedly existed at the time of the Permanent Settlement. 
In itself subinfeudation is not necessarily an evil. Ordinarily 
it does not mean that the cultivator has to pay a higher rent. 
It is a division of the rent payable by the cultivators among 
various grades qf landlords, and it is made possible in areas 
where there is a wide divergence between the rate of rent paid 
by the raiyat and the revenue which the zamindar pays. 
Provided the lowest grade of tenure is sufficiently llarge to yield 
a reasonable income to the tenure-holder, the fact that he is the 
de facto landlord instead of the zamindar should make it easier 
for him to devote his personal attention to the improvement of 
his property. It is the splitting up of estates and 'tenures, 
just as much as subinfeudation, that has tended to prevent. the 
landlords of Bengal from fulfilling the responsibilities which 
Lord Cornwallis envisaged. 

79. Conclusion. It is equally difficult to separate the 
results of the Permanent Settlement from the operation of 
other causes on the economic condition of the cultivating classes. 
No one cause, certainly not the Permanent Settlement alone, has 
been responsible for the general poverty and indebtedness of 
the agricultural population of Bengal. Whether their 
economic position is better or worse than that of agriculturists 
in other provinces, we shall consider later with reference to the 
second term of reference. 



35 

DEFECTS OF THE PRESENT LAND REVENUE SYSTEM. 

80. Financial loss. Having given an account of the 
Permanent Settlement, its results, and the course of the tenancy 
legislation, we are now in a position to summarise what are 
the defects of the present land revenue system. 

It has stereotyped the land revenue at a figure which is far 
below the fair share which the Government ought to receive 
from the produce of the land, and is substantially less than the 
share taken in provinces where there is no Permanent 
Settlement and where the land is less productive than it is in 
Bengal. It has deprived the Government of any share in the 
increment in the value of land due to the increase in population 
and the extension of cultivation; and it has perpetuated an 
assessment which has no relation to the productive quality of 
the land, which varies widely in its incidence from district to 
district, and which becomes more and more uneven as time goes 
on. 

The Permanent Settlement has involved for the Government 
the loss of revenue from minerals and from fisheries in certain 
navigable rivers, as these natural resources were not taken into 
account at the time of the Permanent Settlement, and in 
consequence they have been exploited for private gain without 
any co-ordinated plan. The limitation of the revenue payable 
by the zamindars, coupled with their exemption from any 
income-tax on agricultural incomes throws an undue burden on 
other classes of tax-payers. This discrimination in favour of 
land has had the effect of creating a bias in favour of investment 
in land rather than in industrial enterprises, and has 
contributed to the over-capitalisation of rent-receiving as 
opposed to productive purposes either in agriculture or industry. 

81* Absence of contact with the cultivators. The low cost 
t<3 Government of collecting the revenue and the punctuality 
of payment have tended to obscure the defects of the system, 
and the interposition of a buffer in the shape of the zamindars 
between the Government and the cultivators of the soil has 
until more recent years deprived the Government of the close 
contact with and intimate knowledge of rural conditions which 
the raiyatwari system affords. Even though settlement 
operations have improved the position, there is no provision 
in Bengal for the maintenance of an up-to-date record-of -rights 
such as obtains in other provinces. 

82. Absence of agricultural improvement. The Perma- 
nent Settlement has imposed on the Province an iron framework 



36 

which has had the effect of stifling the enterprise and initiative 
of all the classes concerned. If it was the case that Lord 
Cornwallis hoped that it would result in the creation of a class 
of landlords who would supply capital for the improvement of 
the land and the extension of cultivation, and if he aimed at 
the establishment of a landlord and tenant system such as 
then existed j.n England, his hopes have not been realised. It 
cannot be denied that the extension of cultivation since the 
Permanent Settlement has with few exceptions been the work 
of the actual cultivators rather than of the zamindars as a class. 
It was pointed out by Sir John Russell in his report on the work 
of the Imperial Council of Agricultural Research in applying 
science to crop production in India, that the most serious 
of all the difficulties confronting Indian agriculture is the lack 
of an agricultural aristocracy and of an educated agricultural 
middle class. The Linlithgow Commission on Agriculture 
also called attention to the absence of large scale farming in 
India. It is to the presence of these features that much of 
the successful operation of a landlord and tenant system in 
other countries is due, and their absence in Bengal is a measure 
of the failure of the Permanent Settlement to produce the results 
which were hoped for. 

83. Criticism by Government of India. The memorandum 
on the Land Revenue Policy of the Indian Government issued 
in 1902 referred to the "evils of absenteeism, of management of 
estates by unsympathetic agents, of unhappy relations between 
landlord and tenant and of the multiplication of tenure-holders 
or middlemen between the zamindar and the cultivator 5 ', and 
it described the Permanent Settlement as a system of agrarian 
tenure "which is not supported by the experience of any civilised 
country, which is not justified by the single great experiment 
that has been made in India, and which was found In the 
latter case to place the tenant so unreservedly at the mercy of 
the landlord that the State has been compelled to employ for 
his protection a more stringent measure of legislation " than 
has been found necessary in temporarily settled areas'*. At 
the same time it is not necessary to deny that there have been 
and are public spirited and charitable landlords who have 
contributed to the social and educational welfare of the 
Province. 

84. Evils of subinfeudation, One of the most serious 
defects of the present system is the excessive amount of 
Rubinfeudation which it has encouraged. The margin between 
the fixed land revenue and the economic rent of the land has 



37 

permitted the creation of a number of intermediate interests 
between the zamindar and the actual cultivator which in some 
districts has reached fantastic proportions. The report of the 
Simon Commission pointed out that in some cases as many as 
50 or more intermediate interests have been created between 
the zamindar at the top and the actual cultivator at the bottom. 
This has resulted in dissipating the responsibility* for the best 
use of the land in the national interest among a host of rent- 
receivers, all of whom have to be supported by the labour of the 
cultivator, and none of whom have either the incentive or the 
power to exercise any control over the use of the land. It is 
not too much to say that the extent of subinf eudation has become 
an incubus on the working agricultural population, which finds 
no justification in the performance of any material service so 
far as agricultural improvements are concerned, and fails to 
provide any effective means for the development of the resources 
of the land, which is the greatest asset of the Province. The 
Government has done far less to develop increased production 
from the land than the Governments of other provinces. There 
has been little inducement to spend public money on agricultural 
development, when the benefit of the improvements goes into 
private hands. 

Moreover this army of rent-receivers is increasing in 
number each year. The Census figures show an increase of 62 
per cent, between 1921 and 1931, and since 1931 there has been 
a further process of subinfeudation below the statutory raiyat, 
which will swell the figures still! more. At the same time a 
steady reduction is taking place in the number of actual 
cultivators possessing occupancy rights, and there is a large 
increase in the number of landless labourers. Their number 
increased by 49 per cent, between 1921 and 1931. They now 
constitute 29 per cent, of the total agricultural population, 
ancl the next Census will show a considerably larger increase. 
Side by side with the growth of subinfeudation there has been 
the further process of the fragmentation of proprietary 
interests in land. This is mainly due to the operation of the 
laws of inheritance and is not directly related to the Permanent 
Settlement. But it adds greatly to the complexity of the land 
system and the difficulties of all classes concerned. Striking 
illustrations of the complications due to subinfeudation and 
aliquot tenures, with no provision for partition or common 
management, can be found in the Bakarganj Settlement Report, 
in which Ma]or Jack justly described the position as "the most 
amazing caricature of an ordered system of land tenure in the 
world" 



38 

85. Administrative defects. The complexities of the 
Bengal land system have led to an immense volume of litigation. 
The time and attention of the Civil Courts are largely occupied 
in suits relating to interests in land, and though the court-fees 
produce a considerable revenue to the Government, the cost to 
the litigants ^is far in excess of the revenue and is out of all 
proportion to the amounts at stake. 

There is a notable absence in Bengal of that certainty as 
to the respective rights and obligations of the parties which a 
sound and satisfactory system of land tenure should provide. 
Many of the records in the zamindars' offices are indifferently 
maintained and sometimes fraudulently manipulated, and the 
peasantry, 90 per cent, of whom are illiterate, are at the mercy 
of unscrupulous agents. In spite of the prohibition of abwabs 
and other exactions in addition to rent which were contained in 
the Permanent Settlement Regulations and in tenancy legisla- 
tion, there is still evidence of their continuance in the reports 
of settlement operations. Indeed it is common knowledge that 
the naibs and other agents of the rent-receivers frequently live 
on a scale far above that which the salaries they receive from 
their employers would permit. Though the scale of abwabs 
is no doubt less than it was, they still represent an appreciable 
addition to the burdens of the cultivators. 

86. Absence of remission of rent. Another serious dis- 
advantage of the present land revenue system from the 
administrative point of view is that it is virtually impossible 
to grant remissions of rent in permanently settled areas affected 
by drought, flood or other natural calamities. Although the 
Tauzi Manual makes provision for remissions, that provision, 
so far as is known, has never been used, because it would never 
pay a zamindar to take a remission of Rs. 100 in reventie if at 
the same time he had to allow Rs. 1,000 in remissions of rent* 

87. Increasing loss of occupancy rights. Rents in Bengal 
have not been fixed on any scientific principle and have no 
recognised relation to the quality of the land or the value of the 
produce from it. It is true that the general level of the rents 
of the statutory raiyats is low, but owing to subletting and the 
free right of transfer the actual cultivators are to an increasing 
extent men who are either paying a cash rent which corresponds 
to a full economic rent, or are cultivating under the barga 
system and paying as rent one half of the produce. The rapid 
increase in the number of bargadars is one of the most 
disquieting features of the present times ; and it is an indication 
of the extent to which the hereditary raiyats are losing their 



39 

status and being depressed to a lower standard of living. It 
is. true that the successive provisions of the Tenancy Acts have 
endowed the raiyats with the practical ownership of their land. 
But a large and increasing proportion of the actual cultivators 
have no part of the elements of ownership, no protection against 
excessive rents, and no security of tenure. 

88. Accumulation of arrear rents. -At the same time the 
rent-receivers complain, not without reason, that they are 
seriously hampered by the absence of any satisfactory procedure 
for rent recovery, and that the process in the Civil Courts is 
cumbrous, expensive and dilatory. The result is that rents are 
allowed to get into arrear for several years before suits are 
instituted. This is a highly undesirable feature of the present 
system which it may not be possible to alter radically, so long 
as the Permanent Settlement and the zamindari system remain 
in operation. Indeed it is maintained by some observers that, 
if the present system remains unaltered, with a strict observance 
of the Sale Law and a more sparing resort to the protection of 
the Court of Wards, there will be a complete breakdown of the 
whole system. 

The situation has been complicated by the development in 
certain areas of a no-rent mentality among the raiyats, which 
threatens the stability and security of the land system as a 
whote. 

The truth is that the present situation, while containing 
some of the features of both the landlord and tenant and the 
peasant proprietorship systems, possesses most of the dis- 
advantages and few of the advantages of either system. 
Under it the actual cultivator has too often the worst of both 
worlds. 

MINORITY VIEW. 

89. Economic position not due to land system. On the 

other hand some of our members hoM the view that State 
acquisition would not only be a hazardous experiment 
financially, but that it is undesirable for social and economic 
reasons. In their view the present economic difficulties of the 
cultivators in Bengal are unconnected with the land revenue 
system. The chief causes of those difficulties are the increasing 
pressure of population, the Hindu and Muslim laws of 
inheritance which have resulted in the subdivision and 
fragmentation of holdings, the absence of any occupation for 
the cultivators during a great part of the year, and the fall in 



40 

agricultural prices since 1929. These are problems which would 
have to be faced whether the existing system remains, or whether 
the Province becomes a Khas Mahal. Whatever may be the 
defects of the existing system, it is contended that it has 
resulted in a state of affairs where the occupancy raiyat in 
Bengal pays on the average a lower rate of rent than in any 
other province, and has been given greater protection by 
tenancy legislation than the tenants in any other province. 

90. Cultivators will not benefit by State acquisition. In 

these circumstances some members of the Commission do not see 
what benefits the cultivator will derive from a scheme of State 
acquisition. They hold that no scheme can be supported unless 
it can be clearly demonstrated that the cultivator will benefit by 
it, and that if, even with Government as the sole landlord, it 
woulld not be possible to redistribute the land in order to provide 
economic holdings; if the consolidation of scattered plots proves 
too difficult an undertaking; if the laws of inheritance remain 
unaltered; if transfers to non-agriculturists cannot be 
prevented, and if rents are liable to enhancement, the cultivator 
will gain nothing. 

91. Social dangers. It is contended that a scheme of State 
acquisition would lead to a social upheaval in Bengal. 
Whatever may be the arguments against subinfeudation, it has 
led to a wide distribution of wealth and has given an interest 
in land to many of the middle classes. According to the last 
Census return, there are something like 2\ million persons, who 
are dependent, or mainly dependent on the rents they collect. 
Many of them have invested money in the purchase of 
zamindaris and tenures, and it is only reasonable that they 
should expect a return on their capital. It has to be seriously 
considered what would be the result if this large body of rent- 
receivers is cut off from all connection with the land. When Sir 
John Kerr's Committee proposed to give occupancy rights to a 
certain class of bargadars, an agitation followed, mainly among 
the middle classes, which led to the issue by Government of a 
communique stating that the proposal would not be carried inta 
effect. It is maintained that any proposal to take away from 
the middle classes their vested interests in land would lead to 
even greater opposition. 

92. Economic dangers. The number of important land- 
lords and tenure-holders is extremely small : the huge 
majority own small estates and tenures, and the compensation 
which they will receive for the loss of their rights will be 



41 

insufficient to induce them to invest their money in industrial 
concerns. They will either squander the money or attempt to 
re-invest it in land by purchasing occupancy holdings. It is 
unlikely that this process could be prohibited by legislation, and 
the result would be that a form of landlordism woulld again 
develop on a lower scale. 

93. Danger of rent reduction. Another grave danger, 
which some of our members apprehend, is that the level of rent 
may become the subject of electioneering campaigns, and that 
the tenants, whose votes control the legislature, will not tax 
themselves sufficiently if Government becomes the sole landlord. 
There is already in some areas a demand for reduction of rent 
which may well become intensified. 

MAJORITY VIEW. 

94. Raiyatwari system the aim. The objections to a 
scheme of State acquisition, which are set out in the preceding 
paragraphs have been carefully considered by the Commission 
as a whole. The majority of the members *are definitely of 
opinion that no other solution than State acquisition will be 
adequate to remedy the defects of the present land system which 
we have enumerated in paragraphs 80 to 88. No solution that 
can be proposed is free from difficulties and dangers, but we 
are agreed that the present system ought not to remain 
unaltered, and that there should be some modification of the 
Permanent Settlement. The division of opinion on the 
Commission relates to the degree of the changes in the present 
system which should be recommended and there is a clear 
majority on the Commission who are convinced that in order to, 
improve the economic condition of the cultivators, the 
Permanent Settlement and the zamindari system should be 
replaced by a raiyatwari system, under which the Government 
will be brought into direct relations with the actual cultivators 
by the acquisition of all the superior interests in agricultural 

land. 

/ 

95. Advantages of State acquisition. As sole landlord, 
Government would be in direct relation with the actual 
cultivators and would be in a very much stronger position than 
any private landlord to initiate schemes for the consolidation 
of holdings, the restoration of economic holdings, the provision 
of grazing land, and the prevention of transfers of land to 
non-agriculturists. Government management, although it 
might not be universally popular, will certainly be more 



42 

efficient and more in the interests of the agricultural population 
than zamindari management. Even if rents were enhanced 
under Government management, the increment instead of going 
into the pockets of private individuals would be returned in the 
shape of improved social services. 

So long as the zamindari system remains, it is difficult to 
evolve any satisfactory arrangement for revising rents all over 
the Province on an equitable basis, or for maintaining the 
record-of -rights. It is also doubtful whether so long as the 
present system remains, the legislature would agree to provide 
a really efficient machinery for the realisation of arrear rents. 

)6. Conclusion. It is in the light of these considerations 
that the majority of the members of our Commission have been 
led to the conclusion that whatever may have been the 
justification for the Permanent Settlement in 1793, it is no 
longer suited to the conditions of the present time. A majority 
of the Commission have also come to the conclusion that the 
zamindari system has developed so many defects that it has 
ceased to serve any national interest. No half measures will 
satisfactorily remedy its defects. Provided that a practicable 
scheme can be devised to acquire the interests of all classes of 
rent-receivers on reasonable terms, the policy should be to aim 
at bringing the actual cultivators into the position of tenants* 
holding directly under Government. We recognise that this 
proposal involves a fundamental change in the rural economy 
of Bengal, affecting vitally the whole social and economic 
structure of the Province, that it can only be carried out 
gradually over a term of years, and that it would be a most 
formidable administrative undertaking, which will tax to the 
full all the resources of Government. 

97. The constitutional position. In the later sections of 
our report we shall deal in detail with the implications of the 
conclusion that the actual cultivators should be brought into the 
position of tenants holding directly under Government. But 
before doing so we desire to record our view that the Permanent 
Settlement can no longer be regarded as exempt from any 
modification that may be called for in the national interest. 
Whatever may have been the obligations of the British 
Government as successors to the East India Company, the grant 
of provincial autonomy has created a new situation, under 
which the Government of Bengal is free to consider the problem 
afresh and to propose any modifications which they may 
consider desirable under present conditions. Indeed the 
appointment of the Commission itself and its terms of reference 



43 

are evidence that there is no legal or constitutional bar to the 
reconsideration of the Permanent Settlement, or to its replace- 
ment by any other system which is better adapted to the 
conditions of the present time. 

The question was considered by the Joint Committee on 
Indian Constitutional Reforms, who stated in their report that 
it should not "be placed beyond the competence of an Indian 
Ministry responsible to an Indian Legislature, which is to be 
charged inter alia with the duty of regulating the land revenue 
system of the Province, to alter the enactments embodying the 
Permanent. Settlement, which enactments, despite the promises 
of permanence which they contain, are legally subject (like any 
other Indian enactment) to repeal or alteration". At the same 
time the Joint Committee recommended that any Bill passed by 
the legislature which would alter the character of the Per- 
manent Settlement should be reserved for the signification of 
His Majesty's pleasure, and this is provided for in the 
Instruments of Instructions to the Governor and the Governor- 
General. 



CHAPTER III. 



Acquisition of Zamindaris and Tenures. 

98. All grades of tenures should be eliminated. We shall 
now proceed to consider the implications of a scheme of State 
acquisition. In the first place, we are agreed that if any 
scheme of State acquisition is undertaken, it is desirable to 
remove not only the zamindars, but all grades of tenure- 
holders. If the patnidars and other tenure-holders on fixed 
rents were allowed to remain, the revenue from land would 
remain inelastic. If the tenure-holders whose rents are liable 
to enhancement were allowed to remain, the revenue could be 
increased from time to time; but there would still remains large 
measure of subinfeudation above the actual cultivator, which 
is one of the chief objections to the existing system. 

99. Payment of compensation obligatory. Section 299 of 

the Government of India Act of 1935 requires that compensation, 
must be paid for the transference to public ownership of any 
land, and that the amount of compensation, or the principles 
on which it is to be determined, must be laid down. Section 
300 of the same Act specially refers to grants of land, 
or confirmations of title made prior to 1870, or to grants made 
after that date for services rendered. This would apply to a 
certain number of revenue-free estates, but not all. 

100. Principles of assessing compensation. We are not 

agreed what should be the basis of compensation. Some of <jur 
members consider that in view of the compulsory nature of the 
acquisition, all the principles laid down in the Land Acquisition 
Manual should be followed. Others take the view that the 
Land Acquisition Act was drafted with the intention of 
acquiring small areas of private property for Government, or 
local bodies, or commercial companies. When the acquisition 
of all superior interests in land for the benefit of the community 
as a whole is in question, some of the considerations laid down 
in the Act do not arise; and the provision for extra 
compensation at 15 per cent, should not be allowed. 

We are however agreed that any compensation to be paid 
must be calculated at a flat rate for all interests. Different 



45 

rates of compensation for different classes of estates 
and tenures might be justified, but we think that it would lead 
to 'endless difficulties and complications if an attempt were 
made to calculate different rates of compensation for 
large estates, small estates, permanent and temporary tenures, 
tenures at fixed rates or liable to enhancement, and raiyati 
holdings. 

101. Rates of compensation. In the evidence which we 
have recorded, the highest rate of compensation claimed was 
a rate which would ensure to the proprietors and tenure-holders 
their existing income". The most extreme view on the opposite 
side was that no compensation at all should be paid, on the 
ground that the proprietors and tenure-holders have already 
made sufficient profit out of their property. But the few 
witnesses who expressed this view were prepared to 
make exceptions in the case of estates or tenures which have 
been purchased comparatively recently. The majority of the 
witnesses were in favour of following the principles laid down 
in the Land Acquisition Manual. Most of them interpreted 
those principles as meaning that the rate of compensation 
would be 20 times the net profit, though this is not necessarily 
the case. Others proposed 15 times, or 10 times the net profit. 

We have been unable to reach an agreement on the rate of 
compensation that would be equitable. At one extreme, 20 
times the net profit is proposed; at the other, 5 times. The 
rate which receives more support than any other is 10 times 
the net profit. The remaining members propose 12 and 
15 times. For the purpose of framing an estimate of 
the financial result of a scheme of State acquisition, we have 
adopted 10, 12, and 15 times the net profit. 

102. Payment in cash or bonds. We have considered 
carefully whether it would be preferable to pay compensation 
in cash or in bonds. We are agreed that in principle it would 
be better to pay compensation in cash, although we realise that 
this method of payment might involve greater financial 
difficulties. Our reasons for coming to this decision are that 
if the zamindari system is to be abolished, it would be better 
to pay off the zamindars and tenure-holders once for all, rather 
than to have a huge body of annuitants dependent on 
the Government for 60 years, which is the term we propose for 
the sinking fund. If bonds were issued, the market would 
operate to put a valuation on them, and it is possible that their 
face value might depreciate. In view of this consideration, 
some of our members are of opinion that if bonds are issued 



46 

they should be guaranteed by the Government of India. An 
even stronger objection is that the issue of bonds would involve 
serious administrative difficulties. An account would have to 
be maintained at* each District Treasury of the persons who 
are entitled to receive compensation. Every sale and every case 
of inheritance would have to be mutated, and the work involved 
would be much greater, particularly in districts like Bakarganj, 
than that of maintaining the registers of revenue-paying and 
revenue-free estates. 

We think however that there are grounds for granting 
compensation in bonds in the case of Waqf, Debattar, and 
other property, the income of which is devoted to religious, 
charitable, or educational endowments, or to the maintenance 
of heirs 1 . These are trusts, either of a public or private nature, 
the income of which has to be safeguarded. 

' 103. Revision of recorcf-of -rights essential. Although the 
loan to be raised in order to pay compensation in cash might 
strain the financial resources of the Province, we may point 
out that it would not be necessary to raise the entire amount 
at the same time. The revision of the record-of -rights would 
be an essential preliminary to a scheme of State acquisition, 
and it would therefore be possible to raise the loan by 
instalments of perhaps 4 crores, as the work in each district 
was completed, and the compensation assessed. 

104. Arrear rents. After State acquisition had been 
determined, the position that would arise with regard to arrear 
rents due to the zamindars and tenure-holders creates 
considerable difficulty. There are three alternative methods 
of dealing with this problem. Government as sole landlord 
might disregard the arrear rents, and leave it to the zemindars 
and tenure-holders to collect them through the Courts. 
Secondly, Government might collect the arrear rents and* pay 
them to the zamindars and tenure-holders after deducting the 
costs of collection. Thirdly, Government might pay a lump 
sum down representing a percentage of the ascertained arrear 
rents in full satisfaction of all claims. 

We are agreed that the first alternative can be ruled out. 
An impossible situation would be created if Government, as 
landlord, were to be made a party to innumerable rent suits 
between its tenants and the expropriated landlords; and it is 
certain that collections would be seriously hampered. 

1 Vide paragraph 106. 



47 

The second alternative is also open to serious <-!'iiM - : MI. 
If Government took upon itself the task of collecting and paying 
all arrear rents, it would not be possible to delay 
payment without becoming liable also for the payment of 
interest. The consequence might be that Government would 
have to collect something like 30 crores, and for a period of 
two years might derive practically no income-* from land 
revenue. 

We are agreed that the best course is to adopt the third 
alternative, and we consider that it would be equitable to pay 
50 per cent, of all arrears which were not time-barred, and 
which had been verified by the staff that would assess 
compensation in each district. The sum thus ascertained 
would be added to the amount of compensation to be paid to 
each zamindar and tenure-holder, and the full amount of the 
arrear rents would be payable to the Government. 

As regards arrear rents due from tenure-holders to their 
superior landlords, we think that it would not be possible for 
Government to arrange for their collection, but that the 
superior landlords would have to be left to collect the arrears 
due to them, if necessary by attaching the compensation of the 
defaulting tenure-holder. The only alternative would be to 
empower by legislation the Government officers who would 
verify the arrears of rent, to deduct arrear rents due from 
tenure-holders from the compensation payable to them, and to 
transfer these amounts to the superior landlords. 

SPECIAL CLASSES OF ESTATES AND TENURES. 

105. Waqfs, Debattars, and other Trust estates. There 
are several classes of estates which call for special consideration, 
or-> which might give rise to considerable difficulty if the 
zamindari system is abolished. 

The first class consists of Waqf, Debattar and other 
estates, the income of which is devoted to religious, charitable 
or educational endowments. We are agreed that if Government 
were to acquire such estates it would be desirable that the sums 
which were being paid to these objects at the time 
of acquisition, should continue to be paid. 

In order to avoid any loss of income to public trusts of these 
kinds, it would be necessary to grant compensation at a level 
which would produce the existing income, i.e., at 25 times their 
income, if interest is taken at 4 per cent. The effect of this 



48 

recommendation would also be that part of the income from 
this class of estate would not be available to the general 
revenues. 

In addition to the public waqfs, there are waqfs known as 
waqf al-al-aulad, which are intended for the maintenance of 
the grantors' heirs. These may become public trusts in the 
event of thS family becoming extinct. There are also waqfs 
which consist partly of one kind, and partly of the other, the 
income being assigned both to religious or charitable objects 
and to the maintenance of heirs. 

In the case of the former, we propose that compensation 
should be paid at whatever rate is accepted as equitable for the 
proprietors and tenure-holders generally. In the case of the 
latter, that portion of the income which is devoted to religious 
or charitable objects should continue to be paid, and for the 
remaining portion, compensation should be paid at the ordinary 
rate. The principle should be that whether all, or part, of 
the income is now being devoted to religious, charitable 
or educational objects, it should continue to be paid by 
assessing compensation at a level which would ensure the income 
of a similar amount. The bonds issued in favour of the 
possessors of Waqf, Debattar, and Trust estates of all kinds 
should remain in the custody of Government, and the character/ 
and incidents of such trusts should apply to them. 

106. Other religious grants. The same difficulty arises 
in the case of grants of land made by zamindars or tenure- 
holders in the name of various deities. It is a common 
practice to assign the income from a particular block of land 
to a household deity, and the Courts have held that in such 
cases the deities are juridical persons, and become the actual 
owners of the property. In some cases grants of land have 
been made to the deity of a particular village, and the inccfme 
is managed by a shebait on behalf of the whole village. We 
are not in a position to estimate the income derived from such 
grants but we believe it is very considerable. We think that 
grants of this kind must be governed by the same principle as 
that proposed in the case of Wakf estates. 

107. Fee simple estates. There are some estates held in 
fee simple, the revenue of which has been redeemed. These 
estates occur mainly in Darjeeling and Chittagong districts. 
If, as we believe, they consist mainly of tea gardens or urban 
lands, they do not fall within the scope of our enquiry and can 
be omitted from the scheme of State acquisition. There are 



49 

also some Sundarban lots, the revenue of which has been 
redeemed. These would be treated as ordinary revenue-free 
estates and compensated at the ordinary rate. 

108. Temporarily settled estates managed by Government. 

There are some temporarily settled private estates 
which are being managed by Government. In some cases they 
have been under Government management for a 'great many 
years. Malikana is paid to the proprietors, and the balance 
is treated as khas mahal revenue. Under a scheme of State 
acquisition, compensation would have to be paid to the 
proprietors, just as it would be to temporarily settled 
proprietors who manage their own estates. But the revenue 
payable by these estates has not been fixed in relation to their 
present assets, except in cases where Government has assumed 
management after the last revisional settlement was made. 
Before compensation could be assessed , the revenue would have 
to be fixed. The general principle should be followed of making 
an allowance of 30 per cent, of the assets to the proprietors. 

109. Tenure-holders in Khas Mahals. There is a certain 
number of tenure-holders in Government estates, although the 
proportion of rent intercepted by them is small in comparison 
with the amount paid directly to Government by the raiyats. 
The barga system also exists in Government estates no less than 
in the permanently settled area. In order to bring Government 
into direct relation with the actual cultivators in Khas Mahal 
estates, the same process of acquiring the superior interests 
would have to be carried out, though to a lesser extent than 
in the permanently settled area. We have not included any 
calculation of the cost of acquiring these rights in our estimate. 
The cost would be comparatively small, and it could be left to 
Government to undertake the operation at their convenience. 
We* would however suggest that it might be worth while making 
the ^experiment of State acquisition on a small scale in Khas 
Mahal areas. This would provide some indication of the 
financial, social and other results that may be expected to occur, 
if State acquisition is undertaken district by district. There 
are a few Government estates in Bakarganj in which there ia 
extensive subinfeudation, and these would give an idea of the 
practical difficulties that may arise in calculating compensation 
and paying arrear rents due to the tenure-holders. 

110. Khas lands and homesteads. As regards the home- 
steads and khas lands of proprietors and tenure-holders, we 
think that the best course would be to include them in 
the acquisition scheme, but to leave them in possession of the 



50 

proprietors and tenure-holders, provided that they cultivate 
the khas lands either themselves or by their servants, or by 
hired labour. CQmpensation would be paid for the acquisition 
of the khas lands, and fair rents would be fixed for them. 

ACQUISITION OF CERTAIN RAIYATI TENANCIES. 

111. Intention of the fifth term of reference. The fifth 
term of reference directs us to advise Government regarding 
the advisability and practicability of bringing Government into 
direct relation with the actual cultivators. We agree that the 
interests of raiyats or under-raiyats should be acquired 
in respect of the area which they have sublet. The cultivating 
tenants in actual possession would be treated as the 
direct tenants of Government, and their immediate landlords 
would be compensated. But the wording of the term of 
reference is clear enough to leave no doubt that we are 
to consider the situation that would arise if Governmept were 
to come into direct relation with the bargadars. Here 
the position is not so easy, and there are arguments both for 
and against the acquisition of the rights of raiyats who have 
given land to bargadars. f 

112. Arguments against acquisition. On the one hand it 
may be contended that the bargadars are not legally tenants. 
It is not possible to treat them in a scheme of State acquisition 
as having the rights of tenants, and on that basis to 
pay compensation to their raiyat landlords. If compensation 
had to be paid, it would amount to the difference between the 
value of the share of the crop received by the raiyat, and the 
rent paid by him for the area cultivated by his bargadar. As 
approximately one-fifth of the land in Bengal is believed to be 
cultivated under the barga system, compensation would amount 
to such an enormous figure that it would render impossible any 
scheme of State acquisition. Moreover, it would be against 
the interests of the bargadars themselves to include them in a 
scheme of State acquisition because, as we have mentioned in 
paragraph 145, as soon as Government's intention became 
known, they would be generally evicted, and even greater 
agricultural distress would ensue. 

113. Arguments for acquisition. On the other hand it 
may be argued that the elimination of the zamindars 
and intermediaries cannot be considered unless it resultsnot 
necessarily at once but gradually in bringing the actual 
cultivators under Government. The existing raiyats are not 



51 

all cultivators, and if they are in practice middlemen, there is 
the same case for giving their lessees the rights which were 
given to raiyats in 1859 and 1885. It would be a legal quibble 
to exclude the bargadars from a scheme of State acquisition 
and to retain the interests of the non-cultivating raiyats, 
because until the Tenancy Amendment Act of 1928 bargadars 
could be tenants. It would also be inconsistent to exclude 
them from a scheme of State acquisition, when we have at the 
same time recommended that they should be given the rights 
proposed in Sir John Kerr's Bill 1 . If the object is to give 
security to the actual cultivator, and to prevent him from being 
rack-rented, it is essential to include the bargadars in a scheme 
of State acquisition. It would not be necessary to pay 
compensation based on the difference between the value of the 
share of the crop the raiyat receives, and the rent he pays. 
Fair rent would be fixed for bargadars, and compensation 
would be based on the difference between the fair rent so fixed, 
and the rent per acre paid by the raiyat. It is possible that 
this proposal might lead to the eviction of a number of 
bargadars; and even that emergency legislation declaring them 
to be raiyats or under-raiyats as the case may be, would not 
prevent their eviction altogether. But it is likely that the non- 
cultivating classes would be unable to leave their lands 
uncultivated for more than a year or two, and would be 
compelled to re-employ the former bargadars, or other landless 
labourers. 

114. Decision and financial effect. We have considered 
the arguments on both sides, and think that the best course 
would be to carry through in the first instance the acquisition 
of all superior rights down to the lowest grade of cash paying 
under-raiyat. Although we are in favour of making all 
bargadars the direct tenants of Government, we are unable to 
recommend that this policy should be adopted until the 
interests above the lowest grade of cash-paying tenants have 
been acquired. Before acquiring the interests of landlords who 
have given land in barga, legislation would have to be passed, 
giving to the bargadars the rights which we have recommended 
in paragraph 146, and in that case compensation should be 
based on the difference between the landlord's rent, and the 
fair commuted cash-rent which would be fixed for the bargadar. 
Fair rents would therefore have to be fixed for bargadars all 
over the Province before attempting to acquire the interests 
of their landlords. 

1 Vidt pare graph 146. 



52 

If compensation were paid at 10 times the profit of the 
landlords of cash-paying under-raiyats, the sum involved would 
be approximately the acreage sublet, multiplied by the difference 
between the average raiyati and under-raiyati rates of rent, 
multiplied by 10. This would be 9 crores. The financial effect 
would however depend upon the decision whether the existing 
rents of undter-raiyats are considered to be equitable, or whether 
any reduction is thought to be desirable. On this ground we 
have not included this item in the calculation of the cost of 
State acquisition. 



FISHERY BIGHTS. 

115. Need to consider acquisition. Fishery rights exist in 
large navigable rivers, in smaller rivers, in beels or other areas 
liable to inundation, and in tanks. In considering the 
advisability of State acquisition of fishery rights, we exclude 
rights in tanks which appertain to the holdings of tenants, and 
rights in tanks which are the khas property of proprietors or 
tenure-holders, and in which the tenants have acquired fishery 
rights by prescription. 

The position regarding fishery rights is, broadly speaking, 
that the rights in small rivers or in fisheries which are included 
within the ambit of permanently settled estates, belong to the 
proprietors or tenure-holders; while the rights in the navigable 
rivers belong in some cases to Government and in others to the 
proprietors. In some rivers, the fishery rights have been the 
subject of long and costly litigation between Government and 
the proprietors. The question of acquiring fishery rights 
cannot be excluded in considering a scheme of State acquisition 
because they form part and parcel of the estates to wfeich they 
belong: in fact, there are some tauzis which consist entirely 
of fisheries. 

116. Reasons for acquiring fishery rights. For several 
reasons we think it desirable to acquire all fishery rights. 
More injustice 1 results from the settlement of fisheries than 
from the settlement of land. The actual fishermen have no 
rights, and there is no limit to what can be exacted from them. 
The present system is wasteful and uneconomical, and results 
in -the supply of fish at rates which must leave a very high 
margin of profit to the middlemen. In some cases there is as 

1 Report of Special Fishery Officer. 



53 

much subinfeudation in the leasing of fishery rights as there is 
in . the land revenue system. If the Government were the 
proprietor of all the fisheries, it would be in a better position 
to see that settlements are made direct with people who derive 
their income mainly or partly from fishing, or with societies of 
fishermen; to enforce close seasons for catching fish; to prevent 
the catching of young fish; and to carry out experiments in 
pisciculture in order to preserve the stock of various kinds of 
fish in the rivers. 

The question of granting rights of a permanent nature to 
fishermen has been considered by Government in the past. The 
practical difficulty is to define the areas within which these 
rights would operate. But it is certain that the grant of any 
rights would become a more practicable proposition if 
Government as proprietor, had control of the fisheries. 

117. Basis of assessing compensation. It is not possible 
to frame any estimate of the value of jalkar rights which are 
at present vested in the zamindars and tenure-holders. 
Jalkars which lie within the ambit of permanently settled 
estates would be acquired, and compensation paid in the same 
way as for the acquisition of rights in land. But the basis of 
calculation would be different, because jalkars are generally 
settled either annually, or for a short period of years, at rates 
which may differ widely at each settlement. We -"J^--' that 
the basis for compensation should be the average^ income 
received during the last 20 years, less the cost of collection, if 
any. 

Jalkars in navigable rivers could only be acquired after 
making investigations into the extent of each fishery, the 
subordinate rights, if any, and the average income received by 
the f zamindars or tenure-holders or lessees over the same 
period of years. 



MINERAL RIGHTS. 

118. The legal position. In all provinces except Bengal 
and Bihar the minerals belong to the State. In Bengal coal 
belongs to the zamindars of a few permanently settled estates, 
and judicial decisions have confirmed the mineral rights to the 
zamindars. The Privy Council quoted 1 with approval Field's 
statement "The Zamindar is entitled to rent for all land lying 

*37 Indian Appeals 136. 



54 

within the limits of his zamindari and the rights of mining, 
fishing and other incorporeal rights included in his 
proprietorship/' But in the Privy Council case Raja 
B. N. Singh vs. Rajeswar Prasad 1 and in other cases where 
the question was whether the minerals belonged to the zamindar 
or the patnidar, it was held that without an express grant of 
sub-soil rigfcts only the. surface rights pass. Prima facie on 
the same grounds Government might have claimed that subsoil 
rights did not pass at the Permanent Settlement. The 
Government of India, however, did not hold this view when 
referring the matter to the Secretary of State in 1879. In his 
reply Lord Cranbrook said that even if the legal right was with 
the Government, it was not desirable to enforce it. He left 
the minerals to the zamindars on very much the same grounds 
that Lord Cornwallis made a permanent settlement of the land 
with them. He believed that the indirect returns to the State 
would be more valuable than any direct returns. In the same 
correspondence it was decided that the profits arising from 
minerals could be taken into account in assessing land revenue. 
The position therefore is that mineral rights in Bengal are 
held as an integral part of the estates. 

119. Reasons for acquiring mineral rights. If Government 
decides to acquire all the superior interests in land down to the 
actual cultivators, the obvious policy is to acquire the whole 
property of the zamindars and middlemen and not a part. In 
fact the advantages of acquiring minerals are more certain 
than the advantages of acquiring the right to collect rent. 
Under the present system wastage is prevalent, and 
conservation from a national point of view is often neglected. 
The Inspectors of Mines have no powers to enforce conservation 
or prevent waste, and it is only recently that they have 
exercised control over working methods in order to safeguard 
the employees 2 . 

Owing to the necessity of taking leases from different 
landlords and the fact that the boundaries of the mines often 
follow entirely unsuitable Revenue Survey boundaries, many 
mines ~are worked uneconomically. The number of grades of 
landlords between the revenue payer and the working 
Company, all contending for royalties, have had much the same 
harmful effects as subinfeudation in land. 

It was for these and similar reasons that the Burrows 
minority report advocated nationalisation of mines, the 

1 58 Indian Appeals 228. / 

1 Teehrane Rees Commission of 1920 paragraphs 14 to 17; Burrows Committee of 
1937 paragraphs 137 and 138. 



55 

nationalisation of royalties being the first step. The majority 
might have made the same recommendation, but -they thought 
that the preservation of the coalfields from deterioration was 
too urgent a matter to wait the ten years which nationalisation 
proceedings might take 1 . It should be noted that the 
acquisition of mines as opposed to the royalties is a much more 
difficult problem. We are not concerned with it, t because the 
position of the companies working the mines is parallel to that 
of the actual cultivators working the land. There is no 
proposal to acquire their -rights. The collieries which are 
worked by the zamindars themselves might be treated as their 
khas lands and left in their possession subject to the payment 
of royalty. If they were treated in the same way as 
agricultural khas lands, they would be acquired and 
compensation would be paid for them. 

120. Estimates of cost. In England, mining royalties 
have recently been nationalised. The sum awarded was 66*45 
million. On the English basis of calculation it has been 
estimated that 2.62 crores might be payable to the royalt) r - 
holders in Bengal. By a different method of calculation, which 
unlike the English system takes account of undeveloped or 
virgin properties, it has been estimated that the compensation 
would be i| crores. 

The interesting feature of the English scheme is the nominal 
value it places on assets which are not expected to bring in an 
income for 20 or 25 years. Owners of a property of which the 
life is calculated at 52 years will receive 8 times the present 
income and 11 times the average income. If they invest the 
proceeds at 4 per cent., they will get an income in perpetuity 
amounting to one-third of the diminishing income which they 
are getting at present. 

If Government decide to investigate the acquisition of coal 
royalties it will be necessary to consult experts as to the proper 
system of assessing the mineral assets of the estates concerned, 
and the amount of compensation that will be payable. In the 
estimate we have prepared for the acquisition of the superior 
interests in agricultural land, the income from royalties and 
khas collieries has not been included in the figure for assets. 

121. Recommendation. Whether or not it is decided to 
investigate the acquisition of royalties, we should like to 
recommend that Government should consider the desirability 

1 Burrows Committee paragraph 329, page 170, 



56 

of legislation declaring that all minerals, including oil, not yet 
worked or discovered, will vest in the State. This has been 
done in Great Britain in the case of oil. 



COST OF STATE ACQUISITION. 

122. Estimate of assets. Before framing an estimate of 
the financial results of State acquisition it is necessary to 
explain the basis of each item of our calculation. 

The starting point of our calculation must be an estimate 
of what are the assets received from all classes of tenants, i.e. 
what is the actual amount now paid to the zamindars and 
tenure-holders, which Government as sole landlord might expect 
to collect. The actual figures of rent paid by all classes of 
tenants are now available from the Settlement reports of all 
districts. On this basis we have found that the assets- of the 
Proviijce amount to 11.32 crores. The figure includes the rent 
paid by all classes of raiyats, or occupiers, including occupiers 
in urban areas whose rents were recorded during Settlement 
operations, and service tenures and holdings, which have been 
valued at the average raiyati rate of rent. It is possible that 
in districts where Settlement operations were carried out many 
years ago, there may have been enhancements of rent, but from 
the enquiries which we have made from District Judges it is 
evident that the increase on this ground would be inconsiderable. 
What increase there may have been is more likely to be 
accounted for by settlements of khas lands, or resettlement of 
khas purchased lands, at higher rates of rent. There might 
also be an increase in the assets from urban areas frrmmg 
part of permanently settled estates, which have developed after 
the record-of -rights was prepared, and there would certaihly 
be a considerable income from forest and fishery rights. It is 
difficult to estimate what might be the increase to be derived 
from these sources, but we think that when they are added, it 
would not be unsafe to accept 12 crores as the assets. To this 
has to be added the valuation of the cultivated khas lands of 
the zamindars and tenure-holders, the area of which is 
calculated to be 4-1 million acres. This may be estimated in 
various ways 1 , but we think that the best and simplest method 
is to multiply the area by the average raiyati rate of rent, 
including produce rents. This would give a valuation of 1.5 

1 Vide Appendix IX. 



57 

crores for the cultivated khas land and a total valuation,, 
including the raiyati assets, of 13| crores for the whole 
Province. 

The uncultivated khas lands would also be included in the 
acquisition scheme. In the absence of statistics it is not 
possible to say what proportion of these lands coul$ be brought 
under cultivation, or what profit they might yield from other 
sources, but the income which would be derived from them 
might reasonably be expected to raise the total valuation of 
raiyati assets to 13f crores. From the figure of total assets ,, 
the income from Government estates 68 lakhs has to be 
deducted, as the Khas Mahals would be excluded from the 
general scheme of State acquisition. The assets for the 
remainder of the Province would thus be 13.07, or say 13 crores. 
This we consider to be a conservative estimate. 

123. Basis of calculating net profit. In order to determine 
the net profit of the landlords, the revenue from permanently 
and temporarily settled estates has to be deducted, as well as 
the landlords' share of the cess, which Government would have 
to contribute to District Boards. These amount t<? 2.4i crores 
and 46 lakhs, respectively. A deduction has also to be made 
on account of the estimated cost of management and collection. 
The majority of our members are in favour of taking 18 per- 
cent, of the gross assets on this account, because that is the 
average figure for management costs, including cost of 
litigation, supplied by a number of Court of Wards estates. 
Some of our members, however, consider that this would be- 
too high a proportion and think that the cost of zamindari 
management should not be put down at a higher figure than the 
cost of management in Government estates. The deduction on 
account? of management and collection costs should be 
calculated on the raiyati assets of each estate, and in estates: 
where subinfeudation exists it should be apportioned among- 
the different grades of tenure-holders. 

We have made no further deduction on account of the 
remissions or ir recover ables of proprietors and tenure-holders^ 
Some of our members consider that it would be reasonable ta 
make a deduction of 10 per cent, on this account; but the 
majority hold that remissions are not in practice given in the 
permanently settled area, though some rents are allowed to 
become time-barred, and that compensation would have to be 
paid on the basis of the amount which the proprietors and 
tenure-holders are legally entitled to recover from their tenants^ 
i.e., on their rent rolls. 



58 

124. Cost of State management. We estimate from the 
actual figures of expenditure on Khas Mahal management that 
the cost of State management would be covered by 14 per cent, 
of the gross raiyafci assets. This percentage would include the 
ordinary cost of management, the extra cost of supervision by 
higher grade officers which would become necessary, and the 
upkeep of tjie tahsil offices and Khas Mahal officers' quarters 
which it would be necessary to construct. 

125. Remissions, irrecoverables, and sinking fund. We 

estimate that 10 per cent, of the gross raiyati assets would be 
sufficient to cover remissions and irrecoverables. In proposing 
this figure we have taken into consideration the remissions 
actually granted in Khas Mahals during the last five, and the 
last ten year. We have allowed for a sinking fund for the 
repayment of the loan over a period of 60 years at 2 per cent. 

126. Cost of revising the record-of-rights and constructing 
buildings. As we have pointed out, the revision of the record- 
of-rights would be an essential preliminary to a scheme of State 
acquisition. We have considered the estimates of the cost of 
revisional operations made by the Finance Department and the 
Director of Land Records and think that a fair estimate would 
be Rs. 800 per square mile, including the cost of the staff which 
"would assess compensation and verify arrear rents after 
revisional operations had been completed in each district. 
Excluding the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the cost of revisional 
operations for the Province would amount to 5.8 crores, and 
we have proposed that this sum should for the purpose of our 
estimate be added to the loan. The cost might be reduced by 
taking up first of all the districts in which original Settlement 
-operations have recently been completed. 

We have accepted the Finance Department's estimate of 
1.3 crores on account of the capital cost of constructing tafrsil 
offices, and quarters for Khas Mahal officers. 

127. Synopsis. Our estimate of the assets therefore 
includes the rents paid by all classes of raiyats and occupiers; 
a valuation of service tenures and holdings; a valuation of the 
estimated cultivated and uncultivated area of the khas land of 
proprietors and tenure-holders; and the miscellaneous income 
that would be derived from fishery and forest rights. 
The estimate excludes, for the reasons stated in each case, the 
mineral rights, the cost of acquiring the rights of raiyats who 
have either sublet or given land to bargadars, and the cost of 
acquiring the interests above the actual cultivators in 
Government estates. 



59 

128. Calculation of financial result. The detailed 
calculations are as follows if 10, 12, or 15 times the net profit 
is paid: 

Crores. 
Assets . . . . . . 13.00 

Less Revenue . . . . 2.41 1 

Less Landlord's share of Cess . . 0.46 



10.13 

Cost of landlord's management at 18 

per cent, of the assets. . . . 2.34 

Sum to be capitalised . . . . 7.79 

Effect of State acquisition. 

(A) At 10 times the net profit the loan would amount to 
77.9 crores, plus 13 crores for arrear rents, 5.8 crores for 
revisional operations, and 1.3 crores for the construction of 
tahsil offices. and quarters in all 98 crores. The interest at 
4 per cent, would be 3.92 crores. 

Crores. 
Assets . . . . . . 13.00 

Less Revenue . . . . 2.41 

Less Cess . . . . 0.46 



10.13 

Government management at 14 per 

cent. .. .. .. 1.82 

8.31 

Remissions and irrecoverables at 10 

per cent. . . . . . . 1.30 

7.01 

Interest on loan . . . . 3.92 



3.09 

Sinking Fund, 60 years at 2 per cent. 0.86 

2.23 



1 2.15 permanently settled and 0.26 temporarily settled. 



60 

(B) If 12 times the net profit is paid, the loan would be 
93.48 + 134-5.8 + 1.3 = 113.58 crores and interest at 4 per cent., 
4.54 crores. 

Crores. 
Assets, less Revenue and Cess . . 10.13 

Government management at 14 per 

cent. . . . . 1.82 



8.31 

Remissions and irrccoverables at 10 

per cent. . . . . . . l.oO 

__ 

Interest on loan . . . . 4.54 

~2A1 

Sinking Fund, 60 years at 2 per cent. 1,00 

T.47 



(C) If 15 times the net profit is paid the loan would be 
116.85 + 13 + 5.8 + 1.3 = 136.95 crores and interest at 4 per 
cent. =5. 58 crores. 

Crores. 
Assets, less Revenue and Cess . . 10.13 

Government management .. 1.82 

~3f 
Remissions and irrecoverables . . 1.30 



7.01 
Interest on loan . . . . 5.48 



1.53 

Sinking Fund, 60 years at 2 per cent. 1.20 

0.33 



SPECIAL FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS. 

129. Arrear rents. As the sum which would have to be 
paid on account of arrear rents due to proprietors and tenure- 
holders has been included in the loan, the whole of the arrear 
rents, estimated at 26 crores, or such part of them as could be 



61 

collected, would come to Government and could be utilised to 
reduce the anjount of the loan. These collections could be put 
down on the credit side. 

130. Reduction of high rents. On the other hand we must 
emphasise that our estimate is based on what we believe to be 
the actual assets, and that compensation would have to be paid 
on that basis. We are not in a position to know Whether any 
reduction of rents, which are considered to be unfairly high, 
is under the contemplation of Government. High rents 
certainly exist in parts of Hooghly, Howrah, 24-Parganas and 
in other areas, but we must point out that if any reduction in 
such rents is made after a scheme of State acquisition has been 
initiated, there will be a financial loss, unless the reduction in 
assets is balanced by enhancements of rent which are unduly 
low. If therefore any reduction is contemplated, it is essential 
that it should be made before acquiring the interests of the 
proprietors and tenure-holders. 

131. Decrease in stamp revenue. We must also point out 
that State acquisition will inevitably lead to a decrease in the 
revenue from stamps. Although the number of criminal cases 
is not likely to be affected, it is certain that there will be a 
decrease in the volume of civil litigation. The revenue from 
stamps amount normally to nearly 3 crores per annum, the 
bulk of which is derived from title suits and rent suits. Both 
of these would be substantially reduced when Government 
became the sole landlord. We are not in a position to make 
any estimate of the financial effect, but it is a matter which 
deserves the careful consideration of Government. 



132. Temporary settlements. As an alternative to a 
scheme of State acquisition, we have considered the desirability 
of'recommending less drastic modifications of the existing land 
revenue system. The first of these is the substitution of 
temporary settlements for the Permanent Settlement. We are 
agreed that although temporary settlements might possibly 
afford some relief to the finances of the Province, they would 
do nothing to remedy any of the defects which have been 
ascribed to the Permanent Settlement. There are some 
permanently settled estates in Bengal, though not many, whose 
existing revenue is higher than 50 per cent, of the assets. 
There are others which are leased out to patnidars and in which 
the profits^ are small. In these a substantial increase in the 
revenue might render the estates losing concerns. Moreover 
the increase in revenue would be obtained mainly at the expense 



62 

of the zamindars, and not from the patnidars and other tenure- 
holders at fixed rates of rent. The contracts by which they 
hold at fixed rates could not be set aside. 

A system of temporary settlements would lead to complaints 
by the zamindars against the invasion of their rights no less 
than a scheme of State acquisition, and it is doubtful whether 
there would be an appreciable increase of revenue. The 
Permanent Settlement Regulations would have to be repealed, 
and that could not be done without paying as compensation to 
the zamindars for the loss of their rigths, an amount which 
might largely absorb the increase in revenue. 

133. Release of Court of Wards estates, etc. Another 
suggestion for bringing estates under Government control is 
that the estates now under the Court of Wards should be 
released; the Sale Law should in future be rigidly applied; 
and Collectors should be instructed to bid on behalf of 
Government for estates which are put up in revenue sale. It 
is believed that if these measures were adopted, a large number 
of estates would become Khas Mahals within a few years. But 
this would not necessarily be so in the case of the estates under 
the Court of Wards. If they were released, they would not 
come to Government at Re. 1, but would be taken over by the 
creditors who hold mortgages on them. 

If Collectors were instructed to bid for estates in revenue 
sales, it is probable that a number of estates would come to 
Government; but they might be estates which are difficult to 
manage, or the profit of which is small, and they would be 
scattered at a distance from existing Government estates. 
This would render management much more difficult than if all 
the estates in a district are acquired in compact blocks. 

We think that the disadvantages which are likelv to follow 
this suggestion render it unacceptable. 



AGRICULTURAL INCOME-TAX, OR CESS. 

134. Why suggested. We have also considered the 
desirability of recommending that an agricultural cess or 
income-tax should be imposed. We are aware that the 
Commission is not primarily concerned with the financial 
arrangements which it might be necessary to adopt, in order 
to carry oufc the measures which we may recommend for the 
improvement of economic conditions. At the same time we 
desire to point out that on the basis of the present two-party 



63 

settlement operations it would not be possible to carry out a? 
scheme of State acquisition in less than 30 years. The 
suggestions which we may make for improving economic 
conditions should not be postponed for so long a period, and in 
order to put them into operation it will be necessary to raise 
additional revenue. 

135. Agricultural income-tax. There appears to be no 
legal bar to the imposition of an agricultural income-tax, and we 
concur with the view expressed by the Indian Taxation Enquiry 
Committee that agricultural incomes should not be exempted 
from taxation 1 . The Government of Bihar has imposed a tax 
on agricultural incomes since 1938, and a similar measure has 
been under contemplation of the Governments of Assam and 
Madras. In Bihar, the tax has been imposed on incomes over 
Us. 5,000, after deducting revenue or rent, cess, collection 
charges, and various other items. Income-tax was imposed 
from 1860 to 1865, and again from 1869 to 1873 on incomes 
whether they were wholly or partly derived from agriculture. 
Under present conditions, income-tax is paid on incomes, 
excluding agricultural income, to the Government of India. A 
tax on agricultural incomes would be paid to provincial 
revenues, and therefore a person whose income from 
agricultural and non-agricultural sources was just below the 
limit in either case, would escape assessment altogether, 
although his total income exceeded the assessable limit. This 
might be avoided if an arrangement could be made between the 
Central and Provincial Governments to collect and divide the 
tax which might be assessed in such a case. The Indian 
Taxation Enquiry Committee contemplated such an arrange- 
ment, provided that it was administratively feasible 2 . There 
is therefore a case for fixing the limit below Rs. 2,000 and 
we propose that Rs. 1,000 should be the limit, unless an 
arrangement can be made to collect the tax on incomes 
exceeding Rs. 2,000 which are partly agricultural and partly 
non-agricultural . 

136. Agricultural cess. Agricultural cess is an alternative 
method of raising revenue from the land. It could either be 
imposed on the land as a rate per acre, to be paid by all classes 
of rent-receivers, including occupancy raiyats who cultivate 
through bargadars; or it might be assessed on the net income 
of all rent-receivers, in which case it would amount in practice 
to very much the same as an income-tax. We are not in favour 
however of an agricultural cess, chiefly because of the extreme 

1 Report, Volume I, paragraph 263. 
1 Report, paragraph 260. 



64 

difficulty under present conditions of devising any means for 
its collection, except through the proprietors and tenure- 
holders, and as a surcharge on rent. It would have to be 
collected in the same way as road and public works cess, and 
educational cess. Realisation of educational cess has not 
proved satisfactory, owing to the difficulty which the landlords 
are experiencing in its collection, and we feel that under present 
conditions it would be useless to recommend the addition of a 
further cess. 

137. Recommendation. We should prefer an agricultural 
income-tax, to be imposed as a transitional measure 
until the scheme of State acquisition is effected, or as 
a permanent measure, if Government consider that State 
acquisition should not be undertaken for financial or other 
reasons. We are strongly of opinion that if agricultural 
income-tax is imposed, it should be applied solely for the 
improvement of agriculture, or for projects connected with 
agricultural improvement. 

138. Summary. Before concluding this section of our 
report, we desire to summarise the implications of a scheme of 
State acquisition. 

We realise the immense financial difficulty of carrying out 
an operation of such magnitude. It may not be possible, 
particularly during the duration of the war, to raise the 
necessary amount, even by instalments. If this is the case, and 
Government are unable to accept our recommendation that 
compensation should be paid in cash, we should recommend 
the issue of bonds subject to the provision that small amounts, 
say up to Rs. 500, should be paid in cash. 

If compensation is paid at 10 times the net profit the 
estimated surplus is 2.23 crores. At 12 times the net profit, the 
estimated surplus is 1.47 crores and ar^!5 times it is 33 lakhs. 
The estimates have been prepared on a conservative basis and 
we have no reason to think that the estimated surpluses would 
not be realised, provided that the Government do not yield to 
any demand for a general reduction of rents. Indeed if 
Government is able to collect a considerable proportion of the 
arrear rents, the amount of the loan and consequently the 
interest charge can be reduced, and the surplus will be 
increased. But here we must emphasise our view that although 
financial results have to be carefully considered, we do not 
support a scheme of State acquisition solely on the ground that 
it may lead to a financial gain. If it resulted in a financial gain 
that would be an additional advantage, but our recommendation 



65 

that the State should be brought into direct relation with the 
actual cultivators is the outcome of other, and in our view, 
more vital considerations. 

We also realise that it would not be possible to carry out the 
scheme without reducing by half, or even more, the present 
income of the proprietors and tenure-holders and other rent- 
receivers according as compensation is paid at 15, 12 or 10 
times the net profit; and we have considered the possible social 
upheaval which may ensue if many of the middle classes lose 
their vested interests in land. 

Nevertheless the majority of the Commission hold the view 
that in the interests of the Province as a whole, the present land 
tenure system cannot remain unaltered. In fact, if present 
conditions continue, it may not be too much to say that the 
system will break down of its own accord. It is unsuited to 
modern conditions, and has brought about a situation in the 
Province, in which the welfare of agriculture is neglected, and 
a great proportion of the wealth from the land is appropriated 
by middlemen, most of whom have no connection with 
agriculture and have treated the land simply as a commercial 
investment. The choice lies between introducing a raiyatwari 
system, by buying out all the interests in land above the 
cultivator, and attempting to prolong the life of a system which 
has already outlived its usefulness. The majority of members 
feel that the defects in the present system can only be remedied 
if the State comes into direct relation with the actual 
cultivators, and would strongly emphasise their view that this 
should be the aim of Government. 



CHAPTER IV. 

* 

Transfer and Subletting. 

139. Maintenance of direct relations with the cultivators. 

The majority having decided that it is practical and advisable 
for Government to acquire all the superior interests in 
agricultural land so as to bring the actual cultivators into the 
position of tenants directly under Government, we have now 
to deal with the question which is raised in the last sentence 
of the fifth term of reference, whether it would be possible to 
maintain them in that position. The answer depends on the 
extent to which the practice of subletting and transfer, which 
are the subjects of the sixth and first terms of reference, can 
be controlled, or at least discouraged in the future. Even if 
the State becomes the sole landlord, all the existing cultivators 
cannot be expected to remain cultivators for ever; and even 
if their under-tenants become the direct tenants of Government, 
in course of time some of them also will cease to be the actual 
tillers of the soil and convert themselves into rent-receivers. 
If, after completing the scheme of acquisition which 
the majority have recommended, it were not possible to prevent 
the processes of sub-infeudation and transfer to non- 
agriculturists, it would be necessary to carry out the acquisition 
of rent-receivers' interests at intervals of 30 or 40 years. 

140. Subinfeudation below the raiyat. Subinfeudation 
below the raiyat was not created by tenancy legislation; 
legislation has merely recognised existing facts, belatedly and 
reluctantly. As long as there is a sufficient margin of profit, 
the operation of economic laws makes subletting a natural 
process, and we do not think that it is desirable in the interests 
of the community as a whole that persons who do not 
feel themselves interested or qualified should be obliged to go 
on cultivating for ever. If a close caste of cultivators were 
created, to which there could be no future admission, and if 
none of the existing families of agricultural labourers could 
have any hope of acquiring any land in their own right, one 
of the main incentives to saving and enterprise would be lost 
to the agricultural population. It is an essential of any land 
system that it should be elastic, and capable of adapting itself 
to future changes in the habits and desires of the people. We 
cannot therefore entirely prevent both subletting and 
transfer ability. 



67 

141. Criticism of tenancy legislation. Unrestricted 
subletting invariably leads to rack-renting, to prevent which 
has always been one of the main objects of tenancy legislation. 
The chief criticism of tenancy legislation in this Province which 
has been made in the evidence before us is that the Act of 1885 
did not protect, as such, the actual tillers of the soil. When 
Act X of 1859 was passed, the occupancy rights which 
it created were intended for the actual tillers of tne soil. As 
time went on, subletting to under-raiyats became more common 
but the raiyats retained all their occupancy rights arid 
the under-tenants were to all intents and purposes tenants-at- 
will. The vital blunder was to attach occupancy rights, not 
to the land, but to a particular class of tenants who might be 
non-agriculturists or might cease to cultivate. From this point 
of view the legislation of 1928 made the position worse. 
Though it strengthened the position of cash-paying under- 
raiyats by giving them occupancy rights it recognised produce- 
paying tenants only in so far as they are raiyats or under- 
raiyats paying a fixed quantity of produce. The bargadar or 
adhiar does not come within this category; and although the 
majority of them finance agriculture themselves, providing the 
seed, plough and cattle, they have no status even as tenants-'at- 
will 1 . 

142. Effect of 1928 Act on bargadars. The provision in 
the Tenancy Act of 1928, which definitely declared the 
bargadars with few exceptions to be labourers was, we hold, 
a retrograde measure. At present, probably one-fifth of the 
land in Bengal is cultivated for zamindars, tenure-holders, 
raiyats, or under-raiyats by people most of whom themselves 
hold lands as raiyats or under-raiyats, and to all of whom 
agriculture is the ancestral profession. Socially, they are 
regarded in their villages as having a better status than 
labourers. Many bargadars are the original tenants who have 
lost their lands in the Civil Courts for failure to pay their rent 
or other liabilities. Some belong to aboriginal tribes like the 
Santals who originally brought land into cultivation, but were 
gradually bought up by their landlords or creditors, and were 
converted into serfs. Chapter VII A was inserted into the 
Tenancy Act too late to save many of them from the 
consequences of their own improvidence. These are the people 
tied to the land of whom Sir Henry Maine says "the status of 

1 Under the barga system, generally one -half of the produce goes to the lessor. It 
may be regarded either as rent or as his own share of the produce, while the remaining 
half which is kept by the cultivator may be regarded either as the wages of his labour 
or ae his share of the produce which remains after the payment of rent. 



the slave is always deplorable, the status of the predial slave 
is often worse than that of the household slave, but the lowest 
depth of miserable subjection is reached when the person 
enthralled to the land is at the mercy of peasants, whether 
they exercise their powers singly or in communities". 

We are of opinion that this is one of the most 
difficult problems that we have to face. It is bound up with 
the commercialisation of land to which our attention is drawn 
in the first term of reference, i.e., the appropriation of the 
most valuable right in land the occupancy right by 
non-agriculturists. 

143. Advantages of barga system. We are all prepared 
to concede that the barga system has many advantages. When 
a share of the crop is paid, fluctuations in the cash value of the 
produce have no application, and whether there is a good or 
a bad crop the amount paid varies with the outturn. 
The system is of great assistance to widows, minors and other 
people who are temporarily incapacitated from agriculture. 
Such people would be great losers if their only way of getting 
their land cultivated, without losing for ever the right to return 
to it, was the employment of labour hired by the day or the 
month. 

144. Disadvantages of the system. Nevertheless the barga 
system overrides the principle that the tiller of the soil should 
have security and protection from rack-renting. No one denies 
that half the produce is an excessive rent. Further the balance 
of opinion in all countries is that this system of cultivation is 
not economic and therefore not in the interest of the community 
as a whole. The cultivator only gets the benefit of half the 
value of any increase in yield which is the reward of ^his own 
labour or enterprise. If the crop is even a partial failure, he 
does not earn the cost of cultivation. < ' 

145. Considerations in proposing rights for bargadars. 

We consider that the legislation of 1928 in regard to bargadars 
has proved to be a mistake. Quite apart from any question of 
State acquisition or a radical change in the present land 
revenue system, bargadars under tenure-holders should be 
raiyats, and bargadars under raiyats should be under-raiyats. 
They need not necessarily have all the rights of occupancy. 
Provision might be made by which they could be ejected at the 
end of a written lease, as in the case of non-occupancy raiyats. 
There might also be a new provision for ejecting them if they 



69 

did not cultivate efficiently. We admit, however, that this 
might be difficult to prove in Court. In any case, the share 
of the crop they pay, which is now limited by section 178 (e) 
of the Tenancy Act to half the produce is too high. 

The chief argument against any proposal to improve the 
status of the bargadars, is that as soon as it*has become 
publicly known, the great majority of the bargadars will be 
turned out. But we do not think that the owners of those lands 
are in a position to cultivate the land themselves, or can afford 
to leave them uncultivated for more than one or two years at 
most. They must either employ the previous bargadars 
as labourers on fixed wages, in which case the economic position 
of these people might improve, or sooner or later they must 
reinstate the bargadars. 

140, Recommendation. Our recommendation is that the 
provision of Sir John Kerr's Bill should be restored, by which 
it was proposed to treat as tenants bargadars who supply the 
plough, cattle, and agricultural implements. If it is thought 
too difficult to frame a workable definition, then all bargadars 
should be declared to be tenants. We also recommend that the 
share of the crop legally recoverable from them should be one- 
third, instead of half, although we recognise that there may 
be practical difficulties in enforcing this limitation. 

147. Difficulty of preventing subletting. We recognise the 
practical difficulties of preventing subletting. The attempt to 
restrict the period of sub-leases to under-raiyats in the Tenancy 
Act of 1885 proved a failure. In Jalpaiguri, which is under 
Government management, attempts to prevent the jotedars from 
subletting have been unsuccessful. The same has been the 
experience in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, and in Cooch Behar. 
But in view of the problems which subletting has raised in the 
past, and the extent to which it has succeeded in defeating the 
policy of all tenancy legislation, it is obvious that we cannot 
contemplate its continuance or extension under a raiyatwari 
system. If the recommendation of the majority were carried out 
and all the interests of rent-receivers were acquired, it would 
be inconsistent to permit subletting on a scale which would 
again create a host of landlords over the actual cultivators. 
The ideal which the majority visualise is a State in which there, 
will only be peasant proprietors cultivating their own lands and| 
paying revenue to Government. We therefore propose to" 
forbid subletting in any form. This is the only effective way 
in which transfers of agricultural holdings to non-agriculturists: 
can be prevented. 



70 

148. Recommendation under State Landlordism. All 

sub-leases should be* declared to be db initio void, unless they 
have been made by a widow, a minor, a person who is physically 
unfit to cultivate his own lands, a convict in jail, or by a person 
who is forced to remain absent from his village for a temporary 
period. Sifch persons should be allowed to sublet for 
the period of their disability or absence from home, but 
no longer. Such a provision in the tenancy law might 
be disregarded in many cases, but if disobedience to it rendered 
the lessor liable to forfeit his land to the sub-lessee, or on the 
matter being brought to the notice of the Khas Mahal Officer, 
to the State without compensation, it would deter the vast 
majority of non-agriculturists from subletting their lands. 
They would be forced to have them cultivated by labourers on 
a fixed wage, or to sell them, or to find some system of 
usufructuary mortgage for not more than 15 years, any 
of which alternatives would ensure better terms to the actual 
cultivators than the present barga system is apt to do in most 
cases. 

This recommendation may seem rather drastic, but we 
cannot replace a permanent settlement with one lakh of 
zamindars by a permanent settlement with 40 lakhs of 
occupancy raiyats, many of whom will gradually cease to 
cultivate. Restriction on subletting is not likely to arouse the 
same opposition, or to be as difficult to pass through the 
legislature as would restriction on transfer. 

149. Ad interim recommendation. Pending the comple- 
tion of the scheme of State acquisition, we consider that it 
would be desirable to discourage rather than to forbid 
subletting. We recognise that the large majority of thepresent 
raiyats have been cultivating for generations, that there is^ no 
prospect of their being able to take to other occupations on a 
large scale, and that every possible step should be taken to help 
them to retain the lands they now have. We recommend that 
the law should be amended to provide that in future the rent 
of an under-raiyat will not be more than one-third in excess 
of the average rent of his immediate landlord, if the latter pays 
a lump rent; or if he pays different rates for different classes 
of land, not more than one-third in excess of the rate paid for 
the class of land sublet. 

150. Transferability. The right of transfer was conferred 
after a long struggle on all occupancy raiyats without any fee 
or restriction in 1938. We have stated in paragraph 35 that 
the authorities are far from unanimous whether before and after 



71 

the Permanent Settlement raiyati holdings were transferable* 
There is no certainty that the decision of the Full Bench in the 
Great Rent Case of 1865 was correct, that occupancy raiyats 
could not legally sell or mortgage any of their lands. In the 
discussions on the Act of 1859 there was no ^mention of 
transferability. In 1885 the final decision was to leave 
the question of transferability to be decided by local custom. 
This provision naturally led to the belief that where no such 
custom could be proved, holdings were not transferable; and as 
it was practically impossible for the raiyats as a class 
to produce evidence of custom which would convince a Civil 
Court, this provision of law had little effect. Nevertheless the 
raiyats did transfer their lands and sooner or later the 
transferee could always obtain recognition by paying a fee to 
the zamindar. As the High Court wrote to Government in 
1912, the Courts could not decide whether such sales were void 
db initio or merely voidable at the will of the landlord. 

In 1928 occupancy rights were made transferable subject to 
the payment of landlords' fee and by the subsequent Act of 
1938 the landlords' fee was abolished. This change in the law 
has been regarded as a great boon by all raiyats. It 
has substantially increased the value of their lands, so that 
in theory they can discharge their debts by selling a smaller 
portion. Any proposal to take it away would be unpopular in 
the extreme. Nevertheless it has not proved an unmixed 
blessing, because among cultivators with a low standard of 
education, increased credit means increased borrowing. Free 
transferability has tended and must tend to facilitate the 
transfer of raiyati lands into the hands of is'-.iV.nj.u^ and non- 
agriculturists, with the result that the number of rack-rented 
ba^gadars and under-raiyats is going up by leaps and bounds. 
It is clear that it is as great a danger to the stability of the 
existing raiyats as their opportunities for subletting. 

151. Suggestions for restricting transfer. Several 
methods have been suggested for restricting the right to 
transfer. The first is that transfer should be allowed only to 
bona fide agriculturists. The practical difficulty about this 
siig-jir-lhM. is the impossibility of finding a satisfactory working 
definition of an "agriculturist". In the Land Alienation Act 
of the Punjab, a schedule of bona fide agriculturists is given 
in the form of a list of castes, but this classification has not 
prevented capitalists belonging to agricultural castes from 
buying up the lands of small peasant proprietors on a large 
scale. In Bengal, no list of castes could be made which would 



72 

include all bona fide agriculturists and exclude non-agricul- 
turists. Further, a* family which lives by agriculture today 
may cease to be agriculturists tomorrow, and vice versa. 

A second suggestion is that land should be transferable only 
to families which possess less than 5 acres a head, or, say 20 
acres altogether. The object of this proposal is to prevent the 
accumulation of large quantities of land in the hands of one 
person. An exception is suggested in the case of an institution 
or individual who wishes to invest capital in large scale 
scientific farming, and who could obtain a certificate about his 
bona fides from the Collector of the district. 

A strong objection^ to this suggestion is the difficulty of 
suggesting a suitable agency for ascertaining the quantity of 
land which a prospective purchaser is already possessing. 
Benami transactions would be numerous. Another objection 
is that the price of agricultural land may fall heavily. There 
may not be enough people with less than 20 acres who are in 
a position to pay a good price for more land. If the market 
is confined within this limit, a raiyat who is obliged to sell land 
to meet his liability may have to sell a much larger amount of 
land than if the market were unrestricted. 

The third suggestion which is the converse of the second, 
is that a raiyat who possesses less than 5 acres in East Bengal 
and less than 7 acres in West Bengal, who in other words does 
not possess an economic holding, should not be allowed to sell 
any fraction of his holding. The object of this suggestion is 
to prevent an increase in the number of uneconomic holdings. 
But it would tend to perpetuate the existing uneconomic 
holdings. Like the second suggestion, it involves ajmoying 
investigations. It would force a raiyat who might have been 
able to get out of his difficulties by selling a small portiori of 
his land, to sell the whole, and it might arouse opposition. 

152. Conclusion. These proposals for restricting transfer, 
have been dealt with on the two assumptions that the zamindari 
system remains, and that any attempts to veto subletting are 
ineffective. Restriction of transfer has two separate objects: 
to help the present raiyats to keep their land, and to prevent 
the passing of land held in occupancy right into the hands of 
non-agriculturists, who cannot or will not cultivate themselves, 
but sublet on barga rent or on excessive cash rents. 

In order to achieve the former object and also to maintain 
the system of peasant proprietorship, the majority of us think 
that the second of the three measures suggested above is likely 



to have the best results. We are agreed however that all of 
them are likely to prove extremely difficult in practice. 

The only alternative which would promote the second object 
is the suggestion that all transfers except to bona fide 
agriculturists should be forbidden. Provided that the 
cultivators to whom the non-agricultural transferee* sublets are 
given sufficient security, and protection against excessive rent, 
there seems to be no great objection to the lessors retaining the 
incidents of occupancy rights, though in fact they may 
be tenure-holders or middlemen. For this reason we have 
recommended that bargadars should be regarded as tenants and 
given definite rights, though not necessarily all the rights of 
occupancy raiyats. If this change in the law is introduced, 
further restrictions on transfer are not absolutely necessary. 
Transfer of parts of raiyati holdings is not in itself objection- 
able, and we think that the right must remain, if the right 
of subletting goes, in order to allow people who are unfit or 
unwilling to cultivate to divest themselves of the responsibility. 



CHAPTER V. 

Economic conditions in Bengal and the 
Provinces visited. 

CAUSES OF ECONOMIC DIFFICULTIES. 

153. Pressure of population. The economic difficulties 
that exist in Bengal today are primarily due to the ever- 
increasing pressure of population on land. Between 1891 and 
1921 the agricultural population increased from 25*5 to 36-1 
millions. The 1931 Census returned the agricultural 
population at 33*4 millions, but it is certain that the apparent 
decrease is due to a different system of census classification, 
and it is unlikely that there has actually been a 
decrease. The density of the agricultural population in Bengal 
is 430 per square mile, over the total provincial area, compared 
with 343 in Bihar and Orissa, and 330 in the United Provinces. 
The incidence per square mile on the net cultivated area is 739 
in Bengal : owing to the smaller percentage of the cultivated 
area in the other provinces, the incidence in Bihar is 744, and 
in the United Provinces 640. In the other provinces it is 
considerably less. The fundamental reason for the difficulties 
of the rural population in Bengal is that there is not enough 
land to go round. Even the cultivators with sufficient land for 
the maintenance of their families have to earn their livelihood 
during three or four months, and have to sit idle during the 
remainder of the year, because there is no organisation for t the 
development of cottage industries, and four-fifths of the 
cultivated area is sown with only one crop. 

154. Subdivisian of holdings. The pressure of population, 
combined with the effects of the Hindu and Muslim laws of 
inheritance and the free right of transfer, has led to a 
systematic increase in the subdivision of holdings. A cultivator 
owning 5 acres of land is succeeded by five sons, each of whom 
inherits one acre. Under the existing law they can split up the 
parent holding into five small holdings or transfer their share 
in the parent holding, and the landlord is bound to recognise 
the subdivision if the resulting rent is not less than Re. 1. But 
it makes no practical difference whether the co-sharers remain 
in joint possession, or whether they split up the holding into a 



75 

number of smaller holdings. In either case the area in the 
possession of each co-sharer remains the same, and if it is 
insufficient for the maintenance of his family, he is compelled 
to look for additional land or to increase his income from some 
subsidiary occupation. In its essentials the problem is not one 
of the number of holdings which may be created* out of the 
parent holding, but of the number of persons which each holding 
has to support. 

155. Impracticability of preventing subdivision. We 

have considered whether it would be practicable to check the 
subdivision of holdings by niggrsl ing an alteration in the 
laws of inheritance. We have also considered whether it would 
be possible to introduce the system of the "pref erred heir", by 
which one co-sharer in a holding would look after the 
cultivation, and be responsible for supporting the remaining 
co-sharers. We are agreed, however, that neither suggestion 
is capable of being carried into practice, and that is the view 
expressed by nearly all our witnesses. 

156. Uneconomic holdings. The effect of the tendencies 
described above has been to increase the number of uneconomic 
holdings in Bengal and to reduce many of the raiyats, who have 
been compelled to part with their land, to the position of 
bargadars without any rights. We have no settlement figures 
to show what proportion of holdings in the Province could be 
regarded as uneconomic, but we believe that about half of the 
holdings in Bengal are barely sufficient for the maintenance of 
the families which own them. The enquiries which were made 
for our Commission by the Director of Land Records and 
Surveys took into account the economic position of nearly 
20,000 families in selected villages of each district. They 
indicate that two-thirds of the families of agriculturists own 
less than 4 acres. Cultivators in such circumstances may be 
compelled to increase their income by working as day labourers, 
hiring carts, or by other forms of subsidiary occupation. 

157. Fragmentation and consolidation. Another problem 
affecting the economic situation is the fragmentation of 
holdings. This means that the different plots which make up 
a holding lie scattered, often at a great distance from one 
another, with the result that a great deal'of time is wasted in 
cultivating them : One of the reasons for the Commission's 
visit to the Punjab was to examine the working of the 
consolidation of holdings in that province 1 . We were greatly 

Wide Punjab Note : Appendix VII. 



76 

impressed by the results that have been achieved; but we are 
agreed that although consolidation is desirable in Bengal, there 
would be great difficulties in carrying it out, and it would not 
benefit the cultivators to the same extent as in the Punjab. 
The greatest advantage of consolidation in a province where the 
crops depond entirely on irrigation is that the peasant 
proprietor whose plots are consolidated is in a position to sink 
a well which he could not do if his plots were scattered all over 
the village. Another fact which facilitates consolidation in the 
Punjab is that there is very little subinfeudation, and where 
peasant proprietors have sublet, their tenants have no lights. 
In Bengal, subinfeudation would create greater difficulties, and 
it is certain that a great deal of propaganda would have to be 
carried out, as had even to be done in the Punjab, before any 
scheme could be attempted. Nevertheless we think that in 
spite of the difficulties, the advantages which would follow 
consolidation of holdings are sufficient to justify the experiment 
in Bengal, and we recommend that experiments should be made 
in selected areas, both in Khas Mahal and permanently settled 
estates, where there is little or no subinfeudation. 

158. FaH in prices. The economic situation in Bengal has 
been affected, as is the case in other provinces and countries, 
by the fall in agricultural prices since 1929. The standard of 
living has been reduced and the difficulties of the cultivators 
increased. The situation has been aggravated by the great 
restriction of rural credit. Whether this restriction is in itself 
a good or a bad thing we shall discuss later in connection with 
the seventh term of reference. The Bengal Agricultural 
Debtors' Act was passed in 1935 with the object of scaling 
down the debts of cultivators and allowing them to repay the 
debts so fixed over a period of years; biit excellent as Were the 
intentions of the Act, it has resulted in an even greater 
restriction of credit, and it would not be too much to say that 
at present rural credit is almost non-existent. 



EXAMINATION OF STATISTICS FOR BENGAL. 

159. Absence of scientific statistics. Before comparing 
the economic position of the cultivators in Bengal with that of 
the cultivators in the provinces which we have visited, it is 
necessary to refer to the statistical material which is available. 
At the outset it ipust be observed that no dependable statistics 
exist in Bengal which have been prepared on a scientific basis 
to show the yield of the various crops. This complaint was 



77 

made in 1876 by MacDonnell who wrote: "on the threshold of 
my enquiry I was confronted with what has been held to be a 
great want to an administrator in Bengal, the want of 
agricultural statistics 1 / 5 

160. Statistics of yield: how prepared. Each Provincial 
Government publishes once in five years the result of crop- 
cutting experiments conducted by the Collectors *and officers 
of the Agricultural Department. It also publishes annually 
forecasts, or estimates of the area under each crop, and of the 
yield of principal crops expressed as percentages of the normal 
outturn. What is meant by a normal yield is thus described : 

"That crop which past experience has shown to be the most 
generally recurring crop in a series of years; the typical crop 
of the local area; the crop which the cultivator has a right to 
expect, and with which he is (or should be) content, which if 
he gets more he has reason to rejoice, and if less he has reason 
to complain." In other words, it is the "figure which in 
existing circumstances might be expected to be attained in the 
year if the rainfall and season were of a character ordinary 
for the tract under consideration, that is, neither very 
favourable nor the reverse." 

The total outturn of the different crops is then obtained by 
multiplying the forecast area by the forecast yield per acre. 

The normal yield was never based entirely on the result of 
crop-cutting experiments, but was adjusted in view of various 
considerations, at the discretion of the Directors of 
Agriculture. In the most recent agricultural statistics of the 
Government of India, 1935-36, it is explained that the 
provincial averages for Bengal have been deduced solely from 
the results of the experiments conducted during the previous 
quinquennium, without taking into consideration the results 
obtained during the preceding periods. It is said that the 
provincial averages now deduced may safely be taken as normal 
yields. 

161. Statistics of acreage: how prepared. In the other 
provinces where record-of-rights have been regularly 
maintained, the figures of the Agricultural Department must 
be approximately correct. In Bengal the acreage figures are 
based upon reports from districts, which are largely guess- 
work in their estimates of the area sown under a particular 
crop. The figures have been proved hopelessly wrong in 

1 Bepori on the Food grain supply of Bengal and Bihar Introduction, page in. 



78 

comparison with the areas found in the latest settlement 
operations in Burdwan an<i Hooghly. In Burdwan the figure 
for the net sown area is 1,080,000, and in Hooghly it is 534,000 
acres, as against 501*800 and 284,100 shown in the agricultural 
statistics for these two districts respectively. Such a wide 
'discrepancy could not have occurred, had there been any 
co-operation between the Agricultural Department and the 
Director of Land Records and Surveys. Actual figures 
obtained in settlement or re-settlement operations should be 
incorporated as soon as they are available in the agricultural 
statistics. The unreliability of the Agricultural Department's 
figures has been pointed out by the Royal Commission on 
Agriculture which described them as mere guesses, and "not 
infrequently demonstrably absurd guesses 1 " and the 
Government of India referred to them as being "largely 
conjectural". The recently published report of the Bengal 
Paddy Committee also criticises them severely. It is well 
known that the jute forecasts are always considerably below 
the actual crop, as proved by the figures of export; and, as the 
Punjab Land Revenue Committee has pointed out, the figures 
for the cotton harvest are equally below the mark in that 
province. If the figures for the area and the yield of these two 
important crops are wrong, it is clear that the figures for the 
other crops must be subjected to tests from all the other, 
evidence available. 

162. Yield of paddy departmental estimates. According 
to the 1932-37 quinquennial report of crop-cutting experiments, 
the average yield of aman paddy for the years 1927-37 was 
12^ maunds of rice, or 19 maunds of paddy in Bengal, a little 
less in Bihar and Burma and a little more in Madras. But as 
the result of the system by which the yield was each year 
reported by the Collectors as a percentage of the normal yield, 
the average outturn for the last 20 years comes to 15 -9 maupds 
and for the last 10 years to 16-9 maunds. It appears therefore 
that in nearly every year the actual average crop has been 
estimated at a much lower percentage than the definition of a 
normal crop would have led us to expect. 

The figures taken from settlement reports give the actual 
acreage found under each crop in the year when settlement 
operations were in progress, and the estimates of yield are 
based on crop -cutting experiments carried out by each 
Kanungo. These experiments have not been carried out on a 
scientific basis, and though their number is far in excess of the 

l Report, paragraph 627. 



79 

annual experiments made by the Agricultural Department, 
they relate only to one year. They may therefore be regarded 
as .a rough guide, the value of which depends on their 
corroboration by other data. Taking all the settlement reports 
together, the average yield for the Province works out at almost 

19 maunds per acre. 

163. Random sampling surveys. As a result of the 
criticism of the Royal Commission on Agriculture, crop- 
cutting experiments by the random sampling method were 
introduced into India on the recommendation of Professors 
Bowley and Robertson. In 1925 Sir John Hubback started 
experiments on this system and it has since been followed in 
Orissa at all re visional settlements. The result has been a 
higher estimate of the yield of aman paddy. Thus in Cuttack 
the random sampling method resulted in yields of 23^ maunds* 
for irrigated, and 23 maunds for unirrigated lands, as opposed 
to 19 -72 maunds according to previous settlement crop-cutting 
experiments, and 17-9 maunds according to experiments made 
by the Irrigation Department. The only experiments which 
have been carried out by the same method in this Province are 
those which were made last year over an area of 1,000 square 
miles in Burdwan, Hooghly and Howrah districts. In the 
course of these experiments, about 95,000 cuts were made, and 
the results show that both in the irrigated and non-irrigated 
area of Burdwan district, the average yield of aman paddy is a 
little more than 19 maunds: in Howrah it is 18, and in 
Hooghly 18 maunds per acre. If this is the case, it is difficult 
to believe that in the more fertile parts of eastern Bengal the 
yield is not as great, or greater. 

164. Other evidence of yield. There are other sources of 
evidence which it is worth while to take into account. The 
Congress* Committee, which held an inquiry in the area covered 
by the Damodar Canal Scheme, came to the conclusion that the 
average outturn is 24 maunds, and that only once in 5 years 
had there been a partial crop failure, which could be estimated 
at 8 annas. There are also the reports of old surveyors like 
Dr. Buchanon-Hamilton, Martin, Hunter, and others. Their 
reports show that the yield in Bengal districts could be as high 
as 35 maunds. Dr. Watts in his Economic Dictionary stated 
the normal yield of paddy in Bengal to be 35 maunds. 
Macdonnell in his report on the food-grain supply of Bengal 
and Bihar during the famine, came to the conclusion that 18 to 

20 maunds was the average outturn in Dinajpur and 
Murshidabad. On the other hand Westland who wrote the 



80 

"Customs and Antiquities of Jessore" said that 13 maunds a 
bigha was what a raiyat would expect as a fair average 
outturn. 

Colebrooke states that the figures for the yield of various 
crops in the Ain-i-Akbari would work out, in the case of rice, 
to 4 maunds 35 seers per standard bigha. This is the 
equivalent of 21| maunds of paddy per acre 1 . Colebrooke, 
writing about the time of the Permanent Settlement, took the 
yield to be 7 maunds per bigha, or 21 maunds per acre 2 . 

The evidence as a whole is conflicting, but there is little 
difference between the results of the quinquennial crop-cutting 
experiments for 1932-37, the average settlement figure, and the 
averages obtained by random sampling in Burdwan, Hooghly 
and Howrah districts. In the absence of scientifically prepared 
statistics for the whole Province it is impossible to dogmatise 
about the yield of aman paddy, or any other crop. In 
Appendix IX we have given figures showing what we propose 
to take as the acreage and yield of various crops for the purpose 
of estimating the value of all crops, and of indicating the 
relative productivity of the different districts. We believe 
that these figures are substantially correct, and that the yield 
of paddy which we propose, 18 ;8 maunds, is not an overstate- 
ment. Some of our members, however, consider that this is too 
high an estimate. They believe that the average consumption 
of paddy is not more than 8 maunds per head per annum, in 
which case the yield must be less than 16 maunds per acre : 
otherwise there would be a surplus production of rice in 
Bengal. 

165. No general decrease of fertility. The high yields 
reported by early surveyors raise the question whether the 
fertility of the soil in Bengal is gradually decreasing as alleged 
by some of our witnesses. Prima facie it might appear natural 
that the continuous cultivation of the same crop without 
rotation, or without any manuring to speak of, should have 
resulted in the exhaustion of the soil after centuries of 
cultivation by the same methods. But this was not the finding 
of the Royal Commission on Agriculture. They expressed the 
view that this belief may often arise when the growth of 
population compels the cultivator to till inferior soil, thereby 
producing a decrease in the average yield. The Commission ' 
came to the conclusion however that experimental data support 

*Colebrooke's Husbandry of Bengal, page 66. 
Ibid, page 66. 



81 

the view that where cultivation has been long established, no 
appreciable changes are to be expected in the outturn of crops, 
except those due to changing seasons, provided that the same 
system of cultivation is adhered to. They observed : "while 
the paucity of records of crop outturn throughout India over 
anv long period of time makes the matter impossible of exact 
proof, we are of opinion that the strong presumption is that 
an overwhelming proportion of the agricultural lands of India 
long ago reached the condition to which experimental data 
point. A balance has been established, and no further 
deterioration is likely to take place under existing conditions of 
cultivation 1 /' 

In coming to this decision the Royal Commission excluded 
from consideration land which has been rendered unfit by salt 
deposits; land which is eroded or damaged by river action; and 
land which has been recently cleared of forest. In Bengal 
there are some areas which used to obtain the benefit of alluvial 
deposits, particularly in western and central Bengal, but 
which no longer do so. It is also true that saline deposits have 
affected some of the colonisation areas in the Sundarbans, and 
that the deterioration of the rivers, and of drainage, in some 
districts has proved as harmful as the restriction of spill areas 
in others. 

166. Low yield IL Bengal. The inadequate yield of rice 
in Bengal is also due to the absence of any rotation of crops 
and the insufficient use of manure, Formerly wood was more 
plentiful for fuel but nowadays it has been replaced by cow- 
dung, and thus a valuable fertiliser within easy reach of the 
cultivator is wasted. Raw bones are systematically exported 
from rural areas, although they contain the materials for bone 
meal which is a very useful manure. 

A comparison of the yield of rice in Bengal with that of 
other provinces and countries, indicates how low is the yield 
in Bengal considering its natural and climatic advantages. In 
Madras where every plot of paddy-growing land has to be 
irrigated from reservoirs, the yield is reported to be higher 
than in Bengal. In Japan where the same problems of 
overpopulation and uneconomic holdings exist, the yield is at 
least three times that of Bengal, and in China it is more than 
double. In some European countries like Spain and Italy, the 
yield is even higher than in Japan. Yet no other province or 
country has greater natural advantages than Bengal. 

l Report, paragraph 77. 



82 
ECONOMIC FACTORS IN BENGAL. 

167. Total value of crops. In order to form a general 
idea of the income of an average family, we have endeavoured 1 
to estimate the gross value of the crops in the Province and 
the average value of all crops per acre. The figure at which 
the majority of the Commission have arrived is Rs. 50 per 
acre. Some of our members however would prefer to accept a 
rather lower figure. 

The value of the produce per acre naturally varies 
considerably in the fertile districts of eastern Bengal and the 
districts of western Bengal which grow practically nothing but 
rice, and have not the same fertility. In Rangpur the double- 
cropped area is 42 per cent, of the net cultivated area; in 
Myrnensingh it is 39 per cent. ; in Tippera 36 and in Dacca 35 
whereas in Bankura it is only 3-3 per cent., in Birbhum 3-5, in 
Burdwan nearly 6 per cent., and in Midnapore as little as 2-3 
per cent. Our estimate of the value of the produce per acre 
represents the mean between the most fertile and the least 
fertile areas, and may be regarded as a general guide; but 
under such widely varying conditions of fertility and cultivation 
it is not intended as a standard which can be rigidly applied to 
any particular area. 

In 1929, the Bengal Provincial Banking Enquiry 
Committee estimated the gross value of the produce of Bengal 
to be 243.8 crores. Had they calculated on the basis of the 
cultivated and twice-cropped areas which we have adopted, 
their valuation would have been 297 crores. At that time 
agricultural prices were nearly twice as much as they have 
been on the average during the last ten years. But even 
assuming that present values are only half what they were in 
1929, the valuation of all crops would be 148.5 crores according 
to the Banking Enquiry Committee's figure, as revised on the 
basis of the area we have adopted. That approximates closely 
to our estimate of 143 crores. 

Including rent- receivers, the agricultural population of 
Bengal is 33*4 million according to the 1931 Census. The 
value, of all crops per head of tEe agricultural population is 
therefore Rs. 43. 

168. Cost of cultivation. We have been given widely 
differing estimates of the cost of cultivating the principal crop's 
in Bengal. Some of these estimates even show that the cost of 

Appendix IX. 



83 

cultivation is greater than the value of the produce at prices 
prevailing during the slump, and that from 1930 to 1937, every 
maund ofjute must have been grown at a loss. It is impossible 
to make any precise calculation because an estimate must 
depend on variable factors, such as the size of the holding, the 
fertility of the soil and the amount of hired labour employed. 
Hired labour in turn depends on whether agricultural prices 
are high or low. When the price of jute is high, the weeding 
is done almost entirely by hired labourers: during the slump, 
hired labour was largely dispensed with, and the cultivators 
co-operated to weed each other's fields in rotation. 

We think that any estimate must consider primarily the 
average family consisting of five persons who themselves 
cultivate an average-sized holding and only employ hired 
labour occasionally during the ploughing and reaping seasons. 
If the rains are delayed or are irregular, it may be necessary to 
plough the holding in a shorter time than would otherwise be 
required ; and at the harvesting season hired labour is commonly 
employed especially if the paddy ripens simultaneously in all 
plots of the holding. Instead of going into elaborate 
calculations which are often apt to produce misleading results, 
we should prefer to estimate the cost of cultivation as a share 
of the value of the crop. By estimating the cost of cultivation 
as a share of the value of the crop, the fluctuations in cost are 
avoided. We think that one-third of the value of the crop is 
a proportion which would cover the cost of cultivation by an 
average family, including the cost of occasional hired labour. 
That is the proportion which is recognised by section 32 of the 
Bengal Tenancy Act. In allowing enhancements under this 
section, two-thirds of the increase resulting from a rise in the 
price of staple food crops is taken as the basis of calculation 
and the Remaining one-third is left out of account as represent- 
ing the cost of cultivation, i.e., the share of the crop on which 
the Cultivator can obtain no benefit from the rise in prices. It 
is also the basis of the Cess Act of 1878, when it was assumed 
(hat the rent, the cost of cultivation, and the profits were all 
equal. 

169. Average size of holdings. The number of raiyati 
tenancies, according to Settlement Reports, is 16*4 million. 
The area in possession of all classes of raiyats is 28 million 
acres, and that sublet by them to under-raiyats is 31 million 
acres, in all 3-1 million acres. The average size of a raiyati 
tenancy is therefore 1*9 acres. This does not of course imply 
that each raiyat possesses only 1*9 acres: on the contrary the 
great majority possess more than one tenancy. 



82 
ECONOMIC FACTORS IN BENGAL. 

167. Total value of crops. In order to form a general 
idea of the income of an average family, we have endeavoured 1 
to estimate the gross value of the crops in the Province and 
the average value of all crops per acre. The figure at which 
the majority of the Commission have arrived is Rs. 50 per 
acre. Some of our members however would prefer to accept a 
rather lower figure. 

The value of the produce per acre naturally varies 
considerably in the fertile districts of eastern Bengal and the 
districts of western Bengal which grow practically nothing but 
rice, and have not the same fertility. In Rangpur the double- 
cropped area is 42 per cent, of the net cultivated area; in 
Myinensingh it is 39 per cent. ; in Tippera 36 and in Dacca 35 
whereas in Bankura it is only 3-3 per cent., in Birbhum 3 '5, in 
Burdwan nearly 6 per cent., and in Midnapore as little as 2'3 
per cent. Our estimate of the value of the produce per acre 
represents the mean between the most fertile and the least 
fertile areas, and may be regarded as a general guide; but 
under such widely varying conditions of fertility and cultivation 
it is not intended as a standard which can be rigidly applied to 
any particular area. 

In 1929, the Bengal Provincial Banking Enquiry 
Committee estimated the gross value of the produce of Bengal 
to be 243.8 crores. Had they calculated on the basis of the 
cultivated and twice-cropped areas which we have adopted r 
their valuation would have been 297 crores. At that time 
agricultural prices were nearly twice as much as they have 
been on the average during the last ten years. But even 
assuming that present values are only half what they were in 
1929, the valuation of all crops would be 148.5 crores according 
to the Banking Enquiry Committee's figure, as revised on c the 
basis of the area we have adopted. That approximates closely 
to our estimate of 143 crores. 

Including rent- receivers, the agricultural population of 
Bengal is 33-4 million according to the 1931 Census. The 
value of all crops per head of the agricultural population is 
therefore Rs. 43. 

168. Cost of cultivation. We have been given widely 
differing estimates of the cost of cultivating the principal crops 
in Bengal. Some of these estimates even show that the cost of 

^Appendix IX. 



83 

cultivation is greater than the value of the produce at prices 
prevailing during the slump, and that from 1930 to 1937, every 
maund of jute must have been grown at a loss. It is impossible 
to make any precise calculation because an estimate must 
depend on variable factors, such as the size of the holding, the 
fertility of the soil and the amount of hired labour employed. 
Hired labour in turn depends on whether agricultural prices 
are high or low. When the price of jute is high, the weeding 
is done almost entirely by hired labourers: during the slump, 
hired labour was largely dispensed with, and the cultivators 
co-operated to weed each other's fields in rotation. 

We think that any estimate must consider primarily the 
average family consisting of five persons who themselves 
cultivate an average-sized holding and only employ hired 
labour occasionally during the ploughing and reaping seasons. 
If the rains are delayed or are irregular, it may be necessary to 
plough the holding in a shorter time than would otherwise be 
required; and at the harvesting season hired labour is commonly 
employed especially if the paddy ripens simultaneously in all 
plots of the holding. Instead of going into elaborate 
calculations which are often apt to produce misleading results, 
we should prefer to estimate the cost of cultivation as a share 
of the value of the crop. By estimating the cost of cultivation 
as a share of the value of the crop, the fluctuations in cost are 
a-voided. We think that one- third of the value of the crop is 
a proportion which would cover the cost of cultivation by an 
average family, including the cost of occasional hired labour. 
That is the proportion which is recognised by section 32 of the 
Bengal Tenancy Act. In allowing enhancements under this 
section, two-thirds of the increase resulting from a rise in the 
price of staple food crops is taken as the basis of calculation r 
and the Remaining one-third is left out of account as represent- 
ing the cost of cultivation, i.e., the share of the crop on which 
the cultivator can obtain no benefit from the rise in prices. It 
is also the basis of the Cess Act of 1878, when it was assumed 
(hat the rent, the cost of cultivation, and the profits were all 
equal. 

169. Average size of holdings. The number of raiyati 
tenancies, according to Settlement Reports, is 164 million. 
The area in possession of all classes of raiyats is 28 million 
acres, and that sublet by them to under-raiyats is 3-1 million 
acres, in all 3*1 million acres. The average size of a raiyati 
tenancy is therefore 1-9 acres. This does not of course imply 
that each raiyat possesses only 1 -9 acres : on the contrary the 
great majority possess more than one tenancy. 



84 

The chief difficulty in attempting to estimate what is the 
average area in possession of agricultural families is that no 
figures were collected during the course of Settlement 
operations to show the number of holdings in the possession of 
each family. A rough estimate of the average cultivated area 
in possession of agricultural families can be obtained from the 
Census figures. Excluding rent -receivers, the agricultural 
population was reported in 1931 to be 31-2 million, and the 
average number of persons per family 5-2. There would thus 
be 6 million families in possession of 28'9 million acres of 
cultivated land, so that on the average each family cultivates 
4-8 acres and holds either 2 or 3 tenancies. If agricultural 
labourers, who represent 29 per cent, of the population, are 
excluded, and the khas cultivated lands of proprietors and 
tenure-holders deducted, the average cultivated area in 
possession of the families of cultivating owners and tenants 
comes to 5f acres. 

But these figures can only be treated as a rough indication. 
In the Census classification of cultivating owners and 
cultivating tenants there are some occupancy raiyats who hold 
land as under-raiyats or as bargadars; there are some families 
which have under-raiyati holdings and barga land, and there 
are others, probably a small percentage, which hold 
exclusively as bargadars. It i not possible in the absence .of 
statistics to estimate the proportion of families in each class. 
We have endeavoured to obtain information on this point by 
having enquiries made in selected villages of each district 
through the agency of the Director of Land Records and 
Surveys. During the course of those enquiries, the economic 
position of nearly 20,000 families was examined. The average 
area in the possession of a family was found to be 4-4 acres, 
and it was found that 34 per cent, of the total area is being 
cultivated either under the barga system or by labourers. On 
the evidence before us we are inclined to put down the aVerage 
cultivated area per family, including the families of agricultural 
labourers, at about 4-| acres. 

170. Average family income. We have endeavoured in 
preceding sections of our report to estimate the value of all 
crops per acre and the average area in possession of a 
cultivating family. The multiple of these two factors givea 
the average income per family from the produce of the land. 
According to the figures which we have adopted, the average 
income would be Rs. 225. The Bengal Provincial Banking 
Enquiry Committee estimated in 1929 that the income per family 
was Rs. 406. Prices during the last five years have been nearly 



85 

half what they were at that time, and at present the income of 
a family would according to the Banking Enquiry 
Committee's estimate, be about Rs. 220. This is very much 
the same as our figure, which may be accepted, subject to 
varying conditions in different parts of the Province, as an 
indication of the average income of an agriculturists family. 

171. Subsidiary income. This estimate however does not 
take into account the income derived from subsidiary sources. 
Almost all cultivators have other sources of income besides 
their crops. Milk and vegetables are generally ued for home 
consumption, but the surplus is often sold. The breeding of 
cattle, and goats may also be profitable. Most Muslim 
cultivators keep poultry, and derive an income from the sale of 
fowls or eggs. In the slack season, the cultivators hire out 
bullock carts or boats, and many of them catch fish, either for 
home consumption, or for sale in the local markets. The 
Banking Enquiry Committee estimated that the income per 
family from subsidiary occupations might be put down at 
Rs. 44. At present prices their estimate would be about 
Rs. 25. This figure however is only to be taken as an 
indication. We do not think it is possible to frame any 
definite estimate for the subsidiary income of the ordinary 
agricultural family. It differs too much according to local 
circujjrstances and the particulars of individual families. 

172. Size of an economic holding. The size of an economic 
holding depends on several factors, the most important of 
which are the fertility of the soil and the proportion of the 
double-cropped area. Broadly speaking, the soil in eastern 
and part of northern Bengal is more fertile, than that in other 
parts of the Province and there is also a larger percentage of 
double-cropped area. It is evident that a holding in the fertile 
area** of the Province which can maintain an average-sized 
family in reasonable comfort would not be sufficient in most 
parts of central and western Bengal. 

Conditions vary so widely in different parts of the Province 
that it is impossible to lay down any one area as an economic 
holding; and it is not surprising that in the evidence we have 
received, the estimates of what is an economic holding vary 
considerably. The lowest estimate was 2^ acres in the most 
fertile part of Tippera district, where there is a large 
proportion of twice-cropped land, and the gross value of the 
produce was estimated to be as much as Rs. 80 per acre. The 
highest estimate was 10 acres as the minimum area sufficient 
in western Bengal for the maintenance of an average family. 
The most general view was that 5 acres would be the minimum 



86 

area required to keep an average family in reasonable comfort ; 
but if the land is capable of growing nothing but aman paddy 
the area required would be about 8 acres. We consider that 
these figures may be accepted as being substantially correct. 
They account for the fact that the incidence of the agricultural 
population is higher in the fertile areas which are capable of 
supporting* a larger population. Thus in Tippera and 
Mymensingh the area of cultivated land per head of the 
district population is -42 and -52, in Nadia it is -83, in 
Bankura *72, and in Midnapore 71. But if we say that 5 acres 
is necessary for the average family in the eastern and northern 
Bengal and that 8 acres is the minimum required in the rest 
of the Province, it becomes evident that the total requirement 
of land must exceed the cultivated area. 

173. Uneconomic holdings. One of the most disquieting 
features of the enquiries made for the Commission by the 
Director of Land Records and Surveys is that the percentage 
of families holding 2 acres or less is 41-9 per cent, and the 
percentage holding between 2 and 4 acres is 20-6. If these 
figures can be taken as representing the economic position 
throughout the Province, it means that two-fifths of the 
agricultural families hold an area of 2 acres or less, which is 
insufficient for their maintenance, and that they are compelled 
to take land as bargadars, without any legal rights, or to 
supplement their income by working as day labourers, by 
hiring carts or by other subsidiary occupations. One-fifth of 
the agricultural population has just sufficient land for their 
maintenance in moderate comfort, but without any margin 
for unforeseen expenditure. Those families whose land is 
insufficient for their maintenance cannot pay their rent, unless 
they can make sufficient income from other sources. .It makes 
little practical difference if the rent of such holdings is high or 
low: nor does it make any practical difference if the rent is 
reduced, because the difference would be too small to have any 
appreciable effect on the cultivator's budget. 

However we look at the problem of uneconomic holdings 
ive are forced to return to the fundamental fact that there is 
not enough land to go round. There is now slightly less than 
one acre of cultivated land per head of the agricultural, 
population. As population increases, the available land per 
head of the population decreases. We consider that the 
pressure of population on the land is the ultimate cause of 
Bengal's economic troubles. It is the most difficult problem 
which we have to face because it is virtually impossible under 
present conditions to suggest any remedy for it. 



87 

174. Economic conditions in different classes of estates. 

Having given some account of the economic position in Bengal, 
we are now in a position to compare the condition of 
cultivators in Bengal with that of the cultivators in other 
provinces which we have visited. Before doing so we may 
state that so far as the different classes of estates in Bengal 
are concerned, there is no substantial difference in the economic 
conditions of the cultivators. In the permanently settled 
estates, the average incidence of cash rent paid by occupancy 
raiyats is Rs. 3 per acre. In the temporarily settled estates it 
is Rs 4-6 and in the Government estates Rs. 4-11. 

But the incidence of rent has little effect on general 
economic conditions. Rent is one of the least important items 
in the cultivator's budget. We are not prepared to say that 
there is any difference between the economic condition of a 
rent-free, and a rent-paying cultivator. The fertility of the 
soil, the yield of crops, and the price of agricultural produce 
are factors which have a far more important bearing on 
economic conditions than the level of rent. It is obvious that 
a bargadar who can produce 24 maunds of paddy on fertile 
land, and takes half the produce, is just as well off as a rent- 
free raiyat who can produce only 12 maunds on barren land. 
Rent materially affects economic conditions when it approaches 
the full economic rent, i.e., when it leaves practically no 
margin after the cost of cultivation and living expenses have 
been paid. 

RENT AND ECONOMIC CONDITIONS IN MADRAS. 

175. Level of rent in Madras Presidency. The incidence 
of the Government assessment in Madras works out at Rs. 2-9 
pei; cultivated acre, but it is not certain that the pattadars are 
more lightly assessed than the occupancy raiyats in Bengal. 
In the raiyatwari area, four-fifths of the land' is "dry" land, 
i.e., unirrigated land which grows crops like cholum and ragi. 
The value of all the crops grown on "dry" land is estimated to 
be only one-third of the value of produce grown on irrigated 
land. The average assessment on "dry" land works out $,t 
between Re. 1 and Re. 1-4 per acre and this has the effect of 
reducing the incidence of* the assessment. But on the "wet" 
land, i.e., the irrigated land growing rice, the assessment works 
out at between Rs. 7 and Rs. 8 per acre. If the Madras 
system were applied to Bengal, the rate for "wet" land would 
be generally applicable to the aman growing land which covers 
66 per cent, of the net cultivated area; and the higher land 



88 

growing jute, tobacco, sugarcane, aus, and other crops, would 
be assessed on its capacity for growing the appropriate grain 
crop, i.e., aus paddy. Homestead land would be assessed on 
the same principle, excepting the area covered by the huts and 
the courtyard which would be exempted. The dofasli area 
would be assessed for the second crop at half the rate applicable 
to the particular class of land. The effect would certainly be 
to increase considerably the level of cash rents for most of 
Bengal except in those districts where the existing level of rent 
is particularly high. 

In the permanently .settled, area .af. Madras, which covers 
one-third of the province, the level of rents, according to the 
evidence which we recorded, is considerably higher than in the 
raiyatwari area. The rate for "wet" land is generally 
between Rs. 10 to Rs. jyjjper acre and the general average of 
rate is about 50 per cent, more than in the raiyatwari area. 

In addition to the assessment, the pattadars pay road cess 
at 9 pies and education cess at 4^ pies per rupee of the 
assessment. 

176. Subinfeudation and rents of sub-tenants. We were 
unable to obtain statistics to show the extent of subinfeudation 
below the pattadars, because although the record-of-rights is. 
maintained in the raiyatwari area, no account is taken by 
Government of the sub-tenants, who have no rights whatever 
and are left entirely to contract. We were given various 
estimates. In the Chingleput district it was thought that 10 
or 12 per cent, of the pattadars had sublet some of their land; 
in the Vizagapatam district it was thought that there had been 
rather more subletting. But we certainly recieved the 
impression that there has been less subinfeudation below the 
pattadar in Madras than there has besn below the occupancy 
raiyat in Bengal. < 

The sub-tenants in Madras pay extremely high rates of 
rent. The general average is between three and five times the 
pattadar 's rate of rent and is certainly higher than the average 
of Rs. 6-3 paid by under- raiyats in Bengal. There are even 
rents as high as Rs. 75 an acre in the most fertile tracts of the 
Kistna and Godavari deltas, where two and even three crops 
are grown, but these are exceptional. As a general rule the 
rent paid by sub-tenants is half of the crop, 'and when it is paid 
in cash, it approximates to half the value of the gross produce. 

177. Question of restricting transfer. The pattadars in 

the raiyatwari area have always possessed occupancy rights, 

..including the right of free transfer. In the permanently settled 



89 

area they have only had these rights since 1909, when the 
Madras Estates Act was passed. During the slump, 
economic conditions have led to an increasing number of 
transfers to creditors, most of whom are non-agriculturists. 
The Government has had under consideration the desirability 
of restricting transfer. 

178 Homesteads. The village sites in Madras are 
compact and the homesteads lie close together. The houses 
in the rural areas are built of mud, the roofs are thatched 
with palmyra leaves, or with tiles in the more prosperous 
villages, and there is not the same space round the homesteads 
as is found in the average Bengal village. The homestead 
area is exempt from assessment, on the principle that only 
lands capable of producing crops should be assessed. 

179. Average size of holding. The population increased 
between 1921 and 1931 by 10-4 per cent., but the net sown 
area only increased by 1 -5 per cent. There is the same 
problem in Madras, as in Bengal, from the increasing pressure 
on the land and subdivision, following the laws of inheritance. 
Excluding agricultural labourers and rent- receivers, there are 
7 million adult agriculturists 1 , and the cultivated area is 31-7 
million acres. Assuming that there is one adult agriculturist 
to each family the average area in possession of a family is 
4^ acres. In the raiyatwari area the number of single pattas, 
i.e., leases granted by the Government to single pattadars, is 
3-72 million, covering an area of 16-94 million acres. On this 
basis also the average works out to 4^ acres. It may be 
accepted that this represents the average area in possession of 
an agricultural family in Madras. We were told that the 
minimum economic holding can be put down as 5 acres, of 
whigh between 2 or 3 acres must consist of "wet" land. As 
four-fifths of the cultivated area consists of "dry" land it is 
evident that the average holding is barely sufficient to maintain 
the average family. 

180. Value of the produce. Considering the average area 
per family in relation to the yield of crops, Madras is worse 
off than Bengal. Although the yield of paddy according to 

1 According to the Census of 1901, the agricultural population was 69 per cent, of the 
whole. According to the 1921 Census, it was 71 per cent. The different system of classi- 
fication adopted in the 1931 Census resulted in the agricultural population being returned 
as 46 per cent, of the whole, but the report states that the actual figure would not differ 
greatly from that of 1921. Assuming that the proportion is now 70 per cent, the agricul- 
tural population would amount to 32 -7 million, and assuming 5 persons to each family, 
the average area per family would be 4 -8 acres. The area per head of the agricultural 
population would be -97 acre, compared with -87 in Bengal. 



90 

official figures is 21 maunds per acre, it is only grown on 30 
per cent, of the net cultivated area, as compared with 66 per 
cent, in Bengal. The only other crops of any value are 
sugarcane, which is grown on a negligible area, and ground 
nuts, which are grown on 3 -36 million acres, or 10-6 per cent, 
of the net cultivated area. The remaining crops, like jowar 
and bajra, f cholum and ragi, are of little value 1 . Manure has 
to be used on a much larger scale than in Bengal. 

From the evidence which we received and from our own 
observations we think that more cultivators in Madras must 
be compelled to make a living from subsidiary sources, such as 
carting, cutting earth, etc., than is the case in Bengal. If the 
presence of a large population of agricultural labourers is any 
indication of economic conditions the situation in Bengal is 
not so serious as it is in Madras. Although the percentage of 
agricultural labourers increased to 29 per cent, in Bengal by 
1931, the Census figures show that in Madras the percentage 
was 44 in the same year. 

181. Irrigation. Irrigation is essential for land which 
produces paddy. Apart from the deltaic areas, the main 
sources of irrigation are reservoirs which are maintained by 
Government. In the permanently settled area, the main 
sources of irrigation are maintained by the zamindars, but as 
a general rule maintenance is less efficient than in the 
raiyatwari area. Small irrigational sources are maintained by 
the pattadars, who are also responsible for carrying the water 
to their lands from the distributing channels maintained by 
Government. 

182. Agricultural debt and land values. In 1930, the 

Madras Banking Enquiry Committee estimated that agricul- 
tural debt amounted to 150 crores. In 1929 the Provincial 
Banking Enquiry Committee estimated the debt in Bengal at 
100 crores. Debt in Madras thus amounted to Rs. 46 per 
head of the agricultural population, compared with Rs. 32 per 
head in Bengal. On the other hand, the value of land per acre 
is substantially higher than in Bengal. Good land fetched as 
much as Rs 500 per acre during the worst period of slump 
and the figures collected from registration offices show that 
between 1928 and 1931, the average value of irrigated land 
varied from Rs. 319 to Rs. 1,056 per acre in Nellore district, 
and from Rs. 896 to Rs. 1,100 in Karnul district between 1929 
and 193*3. It is difficult to understand why land values in 

lr The value of all crops per acre is estimated to be Rs. 34-6. 



91 

Madras are higher than in Bengal, when the average value 
of. crops is distinctly lower. The reason which suggests itself 
is that there is a greater demand for land. 

183. Unemployment of cultivators. In Madras the same 
problem exists of finding .:' }:.,"' for the cultivators 
during seasons when they are not employed in > agricultural 
operations. On the average, the Madras cultivator sits idle 
for six months in the year. The position is the same in 
Bengal, and is even worse in districts where practically no 
crops are grown except aman paddy. In those districts the 
cultivators find employment only for three or four months in 
the year. 

REVENUE, RENT AND ECONOMIC CONDITIONS IN THE PUNJAB. 

184. Incidence and assessment of revenue. The Punjab 
is owned by peasant proprietors, most of whom are small 
landholders; and their tenants correspond, for the most part, 
to the bargadars in Bengal. The economic condition of the 
peasant proprietors may therefore be fairly compared with that 
of the occupancy raiyats in Bengal. 

It is difficult to make an exact comparison between the level 
of revenue paid by the Punjab proprietors and the rate of rent 
paid by occupancy raiyats in Bengal. The average incidence 
of revenue in the Punjab is Re. 1-9 per acre" but the incidence 
varies greatly according to irrigation facilities and the 
productivity of the soil. In the areas which depend upon a 
rainfall of 5 or 6 inches a year, the least fertile land may be 
assessed as low as 4 annas an acre, whereas in the irrigated 
district of Lyallpur, the average assessment of revenue alone 
in sevQral tahsils is Rs. 6-6 per acre. 

. The policy of the Government since 1928 has been to assess 
"the proprietors at one-fourth of their net assets. After each 
harvest approximately 10 per cent, of the crop is allotted to 
the blacksmiths, cobblers and other village artisans, and of the 
remaining 90 per cent., half is taken to be the proprietor's 
share, on the assumption that he has sublet his land on the 
batai, or half share system, and that this share represents the 
cost of cultivation and living expenses. In theory, therefore, 
the assessment amounts to 11 per cent, of the gross produce, 
but in districts where revisional operations have not been 
taken up after 1928, the Government's share according to the 
former rules, is still half of the net assets, and the proprietor 
is paying in theory 22^ per cent, of the gross produce. In 
practice the assessment is often less. 



92 

In addition to the assessment of land revenue, the 
proprietors pay a surcharge of 12^ per cent, on their revenue 
to the District Boards and 5 per cent, on the revenue as 
collection fees of the lambardars. 

185. Water rates. The area irrigated by canals covers 
38 per cent., of the total cultivated area. The water rate 
varies for different crops in accordance with the amount of 
water which they require. The rate for sugarcane might be 
Rs. 8 to Rs. 10 per acre; for rice it is normally Rs. 7-8, for 
wheat about Rs. 3 and so on. The general average would be 
about Rs. 3-8 per acre. It would be misleading however to 
add this figure to the revenue paid, because the water rate is 
sometimes paid partly by the proprietors and partly by the 
tenants. The water rate i an occupier's tax, that is to say 
the tenant is legally liable for it; but in some districts the 
practice is for the proprietors to pay half of the water rate, and 
for the tenants to pay half of the land revenue. 

186. Estimate of all charges on land per acre. A rough 
idea of the average payment made by proprietors might be 
obtained by spreading the total charges from land over the 
total cultivated area. The cultivated area is 31 million acres 
and the total charges on land, including land revenue, water 
rates, District Board rates and lambardars' collection fees, 
amount to 9-68 crores. The rate per acre for all charges is 
therefore Rs. 3-2. 

187. Rent of tenants. Tenants under the peasant 
proprietors consist of two classes, occupancy tenants and 
tenants-at-will. The occupancy tenants have heritable rights, 
and pay the land revenue of the proprietor, together with a 
malikana in recognition of the proprietor's superior .right, 
which may amount to 2 annas in the rupee, 4 annas, or 8 annas, 
according to the degree of privilege enjoyed by the tenants. 
The number of occupancy tenants is comparatively small and 
they only cultivate about 7 per cent, of the total area. The 
great majority of the tenants are tenants-at-will, who pay half 
the crop and have no rights whatever. They cultivate 47 per 
cent, of the total area. A small percentage of the tenants-at- 
will pay cash rents which vary with the price of agricultural 
produce, but approximate to half the value of the crop. The 
present rate of cash rents is between Rs. 10 and Rs. 12 an acre. 

188. Value of crops. The principal crops are wheat, 
cotton, gram, millet, maize, rice, oilseeds and sugarcane. The 
value of all crops per acre is naturally higher in the irrigated 
than in the unirrigated areas. The Irrigation Department 



93 

has estimated that the value of all crops per acre is Rs. 32 in 
the irrigated area, and the Director of Land Records estimates 
that for the whole province the average value would be Rs. 25 
per acre. If that is the case, the average value of the produce 
in the unirrigated part of the province would be only Rs. 20 
per acre. 

189. Condition of villages. Considering the comparatively 
low value of the produce, it was rather surprising to find that 
the villages which the Commission visited appeared to be more 
prosperous than the average Bengal village. The village sites 
are compact: the homesteads lying close together. As in 
Madras, they are exempt from assessment to revenue. The 
houses are well constructed and are extremely neat and clean. 
The more prosperous landholders have houses built of bricks, 
and in one of the model villages which the Commission visited 
in Lyallpur, all the houses were built of bricks, except those of 
the menials and the poorest cultivators. In the areas where 
rural reconstruction has made progress we were greatly struck 
with the improvements that have been effected, particularly 
improvements in sanitation. Every house was well ventilated 
and many of them had outdoor bathrooms with handpumps. 
The cattlesheds were well built and neatly kept and in most 
cases properly ventilated. The cattle are bigger and stronger 
than the Bengal cattle and are much better tended. There is 
little grazing land, but it is the general practice to grow fodder 
crops for the cattle. 

190. Subsidiary income. The Punjab cultivator has to 
work harder for his living than the Bengal cultivator. On the 
other hand, he has a better physique and may be able to make a 
larger subsidiary income from dairy produce and other sources 
than tjie cultivator in Bengal. Agricultural unemployment is 
less than in Bengal, because as soon as the rabi crop has been 
reaped, the land has to be prepared for the sowing of the kharif 
crop. There are however slack seasons, during which the 
cultivators are not employed, and the Department of Industries 
has put into operation a programme for the occupation of their 
spare time. The principal occupations which the Department 
is trying to develop are fruit farming and fruit preservation, 
poultry keeping, and lac cultivation. Valuable experimental 
work is being done by the Lyallpur Agricultural College which 
the Commission visited. 

One reason for the prosperous condition of the villages 
which we visited is that although the value of crops per acre is 
only about half the value of crops in Bengal, the area of 



94 

cultivated land per head of the agricultural population is 2 
acres, compared with rather less than 1 acre in Bengal. 
Another reason may be the large income which is derived from 
military pensions. These amount to nearly 1^ crores. 

191. Uneconomic holdings. The problem of over- 
population has not yet become as serious in the Punjab as it is 
in Bengal. * Owing to the extension of irrigation, the Punjab 
Government has been able to colonise large areas of land, 
hitherto uncultivated, and to stave off the problem of over- 
population perhaps for another generation. Nevertheless the 
problem of uneconomic holdings exists in the Punjab, and the 
position there is very much the same as in Bengal. According 
to the report of the Punjab Land Revenue Committee, 20 per 
cent, of the proprietors hold less than one acre 1 . Those who 
pay less than Rs. 5 as land revenue number 1-76 million and 
those who pay less than Rs. 10 number 2-42 million 2 . 
Consequently many of the small proprietors, who have 
insufficient land for the maintenance of their families, are 
compelled to cultivate land of the larger proprietors and pay 
them half the crop in the same way that the occupancy raiyat 
who has insufficient land cultivates as a bargadar the surplus 
land of the non-cultivating or well-to-do raiyat. It is estimated 
that a tenant in the Punjab who cultivates on the batai 
system; i.e., pays half the crop, would require 10 or 12 acres 
for the maintenance of an average-sized family. 

192. Agricultural debt. Agricultural debt in the Punjab 
is extremely heavy. In 1930, Sir Malcolm Darling estimated 
that the debts of the proprietors alone amounted to 120 crores, 
or 22^ times the animal land revenue. The average debt per 
proprietor worked out to Rs. 600. In the same year the debts 
of the tenants were estimated at 20 crores or between Rs. 150 
and Rs. 160 per family, being the equivalent of one* year's 
income. But, as in Madras, the value of land is high compaied 
with land values in Bengal, considering its relative 
productivity. Irrigated land is now selling at Rs. 250 or 
Rs. 300 per acre, a price which could only be fetched by good 
land in some eastern Bengal districts. 

RENT AND ECONOMIC CONDITIONS IN THE UNITED PROVINCES. 

193. Classes and rights of tenants. The United Pro- 
vinces is temporarily settled, except for the Benares division, 

1 Report, paragraph 157, page 74. 
*Ibid, paragraph 150, page 72. 



95 

which covers one-tenth of the area of the province and is 
permanently settled. Although many of the proprietors 
themselves cultivate and own small estates, we may take for 
purposes of comparison with Bengal the occupancy and 
statutory tenants under the proprietors. The occupancy 
tenants have heritable rights, and the statutory tenants had, 
until the recently passed Tenancy Act, the right to* remain in 
possession of their holdings during their lifetime, and their 
heirs were allowed to hold on for five years. The new Tenancy 
Act has created a class of hereditary tenants which comprises 
all tenants who are not on fixed rates, exproprietary tenants or 
occupancy tenants. That means that all statutory tenants and 
their heirs will in future have heritable rights. No class of 
tenants has transferable rights excepting the tenants holding 
at fixed rates of rent in the permanently settled area. 
Subletting by tenants is restricted to a period of five years and 
they cannot again sublet for three years after the expiry of the 
lease. 

194. Incidence of rent. The incidence of rent varies 
considerably. In the more fertile and thickly populated 
districts like Aligarh as much as Rs. 9-4 is paid; whereas in 
barren areas like Jhansi the average is Rs. 2-8 per acre, and in 
tracts where cultivation is precarious it is as little as Re. 1-8. 
Including the permanently settled area, the average rate of 
rent for all classes of tenants in the United Provinces is Rs. 6 
per &cre. 

The proportion of sub-tenants is small. They are tenants- 
at -will holding from year to year and paying rents which 
approximate to half the value of the produce. 

195. Irrigation. The productivity of the soil depends 
entirely 'on the water-supply. Irrigation from canals is not 
so extensive as in the Punjab, and where this form of 
irrigation is not available, the crops are watered from wells 
which have to be sunk at the expense, or by the labour of the 
tenants. The water is raised by cattle, and carried down 
runnels on the fields. This involves a great deal of labour, and 
we learnt that the cattle often work the whole day simply in 
raising water. The maximum area that can be watered in one 
day is 1^ bighas. 

196. Value of crops, The chief crops are wheat, 
sugarcane, millet, oilseeds, gram and pulses. As in the Punjab, 
there are two harvests, the kharif and rabi, and it was 
estimated that the cultivators do not as a general rule sit idle 



96 

for more than three months in the year. The Co-operative 
Department has put into operation a programme for the 
development of cottage industries designed to occupy the spare 
time of the cultivators. 

In the most fertile areas, such as Gorakhpur and Meerut, 
it is estimated that the value of crops may be as much as Rs. 50 
per acre, whereas in Bundlekhand it would amount to barely 
Rs. 20. The United Provinces Banking Enquiry Committee 
estimated in 1929-30 yields varying from Rs. 78 to Rs. 27 per 
acre. At that time prices were nearly double what they are 
now. The Revenue Department estimates that the average 
value per acre may be taken at about Rs. 32 and this may be 
accepted as a general guide. 

Considering the level of rent in relation to the value of the 
produce, it is evident that the ratio is higher than in Bengal. 
In some areas the tenants pay at least one-fifth, and more like 
one-fourth, of the gross produce. The Collector of Aligarh 
estimated the value of the produce at Rs. 35 per acre and the 
general level of rent in the district at Rs. 9. For occupancy 
raiyats, who generally pay a rather lower rate of rent than 
statutory raiyats, the level of rent would be about one-fifth of 
the value of the produce. That is the proportion which the 
Congress Government desired to fix as the limit, and 
Settlement Officers have instructions to apply that standard as 
a general check on the level of contractual rents. 

197. Condition of villages. Judging by the condition of 
the villages which the Commission visited, the standard of 
living in the United Provinces is distinctly lower than that of 
the Punjab. The homesteads are situated close together and, 
as in the Punjab and Madras, are exempt from assessment. 
"But the villages have not the same air of orderliness or 
prosperity which was evident in the Punjab. Many of them 
appeared to be dirty and in a rather dilapidated condition. 
We commonly saw walls that were crumbling to bits, and roofs 
which stood badly in need of re-thatching. With the 
exception of one model village which we saw in Benares district, 
there was no attempt in the average village to carry out any 
sanitary improvements. 

The cattle in the north-west are of good size and are worked 
very much harder than the cattle in Bengal owing to the 
necessity of raising water from wells. In Jhansi, however, the 
cattle were much smaller and about the same size as those in 
Bengal. Some of the cattle sheds were well constructed, but 
the standard is not so high as in the Punjab. 



97 

198. Uneconomic holdings. The problem of uneconomic 
holdings exists in the United Provinces, particularly in the 
districts which are more fertile and consequently more heavily 
populated. Considering the relative value of the crops, the 
pressure on the land is as serious a problem in the United 
Provinces as it is in Bengal. The incidence of population per 
square mile of the net cultivated area is 640, confpared with 
739 per square mile in Bengal. In the Gorakhpur division, the 
average area per family is 4-8 acres, whereas in the Jhansi 
division which is comparatively barren, each family holds rather 
more than 12 acres on the average. A classification was made 
in 1931 over part of Agra district and the results showed that 
27 per cent, of the families held less than 2^ acres and 23 per 
cent, held between 2^ and 4^ acres. The average area per 
family for the whole province is 6 acres. 

199. Subsidiary income. The position is therefore 
substantially the same as in Bengal. The tenant who has not 
sufficient land to maintain his family has either to lake land as 
a sub-tenant, paying half the produce, or to increase his income 
from subsidiary sources, or to emigrate and find employment 
elsewhere. Emigration from the United Provinces is much 
more common than in Bengal where the average cultivator 
is by nature most unwilling to leave his land or his village. 
The income from subsidiary sources must also be greater in the 
United Provinces, where 31 per cent, of the agricultural 
population hnve subsidiary occupations, as compared with 
6 per cent, in Bengal. 

We should also be inclined to say that more has been done 
by the Government for the tenants in the United Provinces than 
hi Bengal, by establishing seed stores, fixing the price of 
sugarcape, and adopting a vigorous programme of rural 

improvement. 


200. Agricultural debt. There is the same problem of 
agricultural debt and restriction of credit in the United 
Provinces as there is elsewhere. In 1929 the total agricultural 
debt was estimated by the Banking Enquiry Committee at 
Rs. 124 crores. It is a rather surprising feature of rural 
economy in the United, Provinces that credit could be obtained 
by the tenants on what seems to be such insufficient security. 
Holdings in the United Provinces are not transferable and 
the creditors cannot obtain possession of them. The only 
security is the crop, and this is hypothecated first to the 
payment of rent. Security will be still further restricted by 
the Debt Redemption Bill which provides that not more than 
one-fourth of the crop can be attached at any harvest in 

8 



98 

execution of a decree. One explanation may be that nearly 
half the debt is owed by tenants to their landlords. In 19.34 
it was found that 39 per cent, of the debt was owed to money- 
lenders, 46 per cent, to landlords and 15 per cent, to 
cultivators. 



COMPARISON OF ECONOMIC CONDITIONS AND LEVELS OF RENT. 

201. Economic conditions in Bengal summarised. The 

standard of living in Bengal rose steadily until 1930. 
According to the Provincial Banking Enquiry Committee's 
Report 1 : " Within the last two generations a remarkable 
advance had been made. They (the peasants) now wear more 
numerous and more expensive articles of attire than their 
grandparents did half a century ago. Attention is directed 
now to sanitation, education of children and medical treatment, 
on which more money is being spent every year. Luxuries 
have increased to a large extent by introduction into villages 
of the improved means of communication." 

When the slump began in 1930, the cultivators were hard 
hit by the fall in agricultural prices and were compelled to 
reduce their standard of living. Many of them found 
themselves unable to repay what they had borrowed, because 
they had to sell double the amount of produce to make the same 
payments towards capital or interest. Worse still, the 
majority had been allowed in a period of prosperity and high 
agricultural prices to fall into three or four years' arrears of 
rent, which they were unable to pay. But the slump affected 
other provinces no less than Bengal. If it is true to say that 
in 1929 the economic condition of the cultivators in Bengal was 
as good, if not better, than that of the cultivators in other 
provinces, the same must be true today. Though the pressure 
on the land is greater in Bengal than in any other province 
except Bihar, it is unquestionable that Bengal has a more 
fertile soil and greater climatic advantages than the other 
provinces. No other province is capable of growing jute on 
anything like the same scale as Bengal, and no province can 
produce better crops by irrigation than the areas of Bengal 
which are sufficiently irrigated by rainfall. 

The price of jute has recovered since last year and there has 
also been a small rise in the price of paddy. This has cased the 
economic position, and if the improvement is maintained it is 

1 Report, paragraph 27, page 29. 



99 

likely that many of the difficulties with which the Province had 
to contend during the last 10 years, will disappear. If the 
price of jute were to remain at Rs. 7 or Rs. 8 per maund and 
the price of paddy at about Rs. 2-8 a maund, we believe that 
there would be little complaint from the agricultural community 
in regard to prices 1 . Taking into account the various estimates 
which have been made of a family's consumption of rice, we 
believe that about 30 maunds of rice, or 45 maunds of paddy, 
is sufficient to provide two meals a day for the average family 
though many families may not be able to afford even 24 maimds 
of rice. This is the produce of about 2 acres. In the Punjab, 
the tenant on batai, i.e., paying half the produce, requires 
10 acres for the maintenance of his family. 

202. Comparison with other provinces. From what we 
have seen in Madras, the Punjab and the United Provinces, 
we have no hesitation in saying that the cultivators of Bengal 
are, as a whole, better off than those in Madras and the United 
Provinces. Although the homesteads in those provinces are 
exempted from assessment, this is not such a large advantage 
as it might appear at first sight, because in Madras and the 
United Provinces land which is capable of growing agricultural 
produce is liable to assessment; and consequently it is only the 
area covered by the huts and the courtyard which would in 
Bengal be exempted from assessment if the system of those 
provinces were adopted. The land included in the homestead 
plot which grow vegetables, cocoanuts, jackfruit and other 
produce would be assessed. 

Both in Madras and the United Provinces, the cultivators 
unquestionably have to work harder for crops which are less 
valuable on the average than those grown in Bengal. The same 
applies to the Punjab. We have suggested the reasons which 
explain why the villages in that province appeared to be more 
prosperous than the average % Bengal village, considering the 
comparatively low value of the produce. The cultivators in 
the Punjab have also the advantage of good physique, more 
nourishing food, and a more invigorating climate. They 
probably make a larger income from subsidiary sources, and as 
we have pointed out, the large sum paid annually in the shape 
of military pensions must be a great asset to the family budget. 

203. Comparison of level of rents. Comparing the level 
of rent paid by occupancy raiyats in Bengal Rs. 3-5 per acre 

1 The Paddy and Rice Enquiry Committee stated that this was the view of many com- 
petent witnesses. Report, paragraph 44. 



100 

with the land charges paid by the peasant proprietors in the 
Punjab, we should say that there is very little difference. We 
have referred to the difficulty of attempting to strike an average 
figure for the dues paid on account of land in the Punjab, and 
the figure that we have suggested, Rs. 3-2, can only be taken 
as a general indication. Expressed as a proportion of the value 
per acre of the gross produce, the average of the land charges 
paid in the Punjab is higher than the average rate of rent in 
Bengal. If we consider the rent paid by the tenants under the 
peasant proprietors we can only conclude that they are much 
worse off than the under-raiyats in Bengal. With the 
exception of a small minority of occupancy tenants, they have 
no rights and they pay in most cases half of the crop. They 
are hardly better off than the bargadars in Bengal. 

In Madras the pattadars in the raiyatwari area, which 
covers two-thirds of the province, pay an average rate of 
revenue which is rather less than the average rate of 
rent paid by occupancy raiyats. But expressed as a share of 
the value per acre of the produce, it becomes rather more than 
the proportion in Bengal ; and in the permanently settled area, 
where the pattadars pay about 50 per cent, more than in the 
raiyatwari area, it would be appreciably more. As we have 
mentioned, the Madras system of assessment, which we shall 
describe in a later section, if applied to Bengal would result 
in enhancements of rent in the great majority of tenancies. 

The under-tenants in Madras stand on the same footing 
as the tenants-at-will in the Punjab and pay half the crop, or 
cash rents approximating to the value of half the crop. 

In the United Provinces, the average rate of rent for all 
classes of tenants is Rs. 6 an acre and represents approximately 
one-fifth of the value per acre of the produce. The lavel of 
rent is nearly twice as high as the level in Bengal, and having 
regard to the value of the produce it is about three times as 
much. 

The sub-tenants, as in the other provinces, are tenants-at- 
will, holding from year to year and paying half of the crop. 

204. Conclusion. Our conclusion therefore is that con- 
sidering the level of rents obtaining in the provinces we have 
visited, the value of the produce, and the prevailing economic 
conditions, there would be justification for enhancements 
rather than reductions of rent in Bengal. In making this 
observation, we do not intend to imply that a general 
enhancement of all rents could be made. There are high 



101 



contractual rents in Bengal which could certainly not be 
enhanced, and would even be reduced, if the systems of 
assessment in force in other provinces were applied to those 
particular tenancies. 



SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVING ECONOMIC CONDITIONS. 

205. Importance of increasing yield. We have expressed 
the view that the pressure of population on the land is the 
ultimate cause of Bengal's economic difficulties. Already the 
area of land available for cultivation is insufficient to provide 
economic holdings for all the cultivators and the situation will 
become steadily worse if the population continues to increase at 
the present rate. The Royal Commission on Agriculture 
pointed out that "no lasting improvement in the standard of 
living of the great mass of the ^population can possibly be 
attained if every enhancement in the purchasing power of the 
cultivator is to be followed by a proportionate increase in the 
population 1 ''. All practicable steps should be taken to render 
suitable for cultivation land which is at present uncultivated 
but this can only be done gradually and in some cases the cost 
jnay be prohibitive. In these circumstances we are of opinion 
that the Government should concentrate on measures of 
agricultural development which will increase output and so 
improve the economic position of the cultivators. Of these the 
most important is the increase in the yield of crops, particularly 
of paddy. Paddy stands on a different footing from jute, 
tobacco and other crops, the price of which may fluctuate greatly 
in relation to the quantity produced. Although the price of 
rice alsp fluctuates, it is the staple food crop of the Province, 
and the chief means of subsistence of the agricultural 
pojJulation. The report of the Paddy Enquiry Committee 
shows that there is not much difference between Bengal's 
imports and exports of rice, and if we are to believe the figures 
of yield and acreage shown in our statistics, there are some 
districts in Bengal which do not grow enough rice for home 
consumption. 

206. Yield of paddy. The need for increasing the yield 
of paddy is obvious. Even if an increase of only three maunds 
per acre could be obtained, the cultivating tenants would get 
the value of Rs. 6 which would be sufficient to cover his rent 
and local taxes. The poorest cultivators, who have little or no 

1 Report, paragraph 420. 



102 

surplus paddy to sell, derive little or no profit from a rise in 
prices, but they are the class that would be most benefited bv 
&n increased yield. It is alleged that the poorer families with 
insufficient land, can only take one meal a day, between harvests. 
If that is the case, it is a strong argument in favour of 
increasing the yield. It is evident that a higher yield in 
Bengal can be obtained. In the estate of the late Sir Daniel 
Hamilton at Goshaba, an area of 30 square miles of jungle has 
been converted into fertile paddy land, and as a result of careful 
experiments, improved seeds are being used all over the estate 
which give an average yield of 30 maunds per acre. The 
Director of Agriculture told us that on some of the higher land 
in Brahmanbaria subdivision an outturn of 2 tons, or 54 maunds 
per acre, has been obtained annually over a period of five years. 
Experiments in Raina thana of Burdwan district, and 
elsewhere, have produced yields considerably above the average. 
If these results can be achieved in parts of Bengal, there is no 
reason why similar improvements cannot be made in the rest of 
the Province; and we would emphasise strongly the necessity 
of increasing the yield of winter rice, through the distribution 
of selected seeds. 

207. Increased budget provision necessary. -We realise 
that the Agricultural Department in Bengal has been 
handicapped by lack of funds. Until last year, the depart- 
mental budget has been as little as Rs. 9 lakhs. In Madras, 
the budget provision last year was Rs. 22 lakhs; in the Punjab 
it amounted to 381 lakhs, and in the United Provinces the 
Department's budget proper is 26^ lakhs this year, in addition 
to which 11 -78 lakhs have been allotted for improvements and 
40*3 lakhs for rural development. These figures illustrate the 
need for making a substantial increase in the budget of the 
Agricultural Department in Bengal. The present provision is 
quite insufficient for the needs of the Province : the minimum 
requirement would be in the region of Rs. 27 lakhs. This sum 
could not however be used immediately, as the necessary trained 
staff is not available. It would take five years to train up a 
staff equal to that employed in the provinces which we have 
visited. We think therefore that the policy should be gradually 
to increase the budget of the department up to its minimum 
requirement, and to take up the training of the additional staff 
as early as possible. 

208. Criticism of policy. At the same time we cannot help 
thinking that the Agricultural Department has tended to 
concentrate too much on research work, and not enough on 



103 

propaganda, distribution of improved seeds, and marketing. 
It is unfortunate that the one crop with which the department 
has produced the most valuable results is jute, the production 
of which has had to be restricted. It has also been a mistaken 
policy in the past to choose particularly good lands for 
demonstration purposes, and to confine demonstration farms 
mainly to headquarters. No cultivator will be impressed if 
good crops are grown on the best land : they want to see paying 
crops grown on inferior lands. More attention should also be 
paid to reserving crops grown from departmental seed for seed 
purposes on neighbouring land, instead of allowing the grain 
to be used for home consumption or to be mixed up with 
ordinary seed. No adequate steps have been taken to ensure 
this. 

209. Need for rural organisation. The present policy of 
the Agricultural Department is to link up the District Farms 
with the cultivators through the agency of Union Farms. We 
are strongly of opinion that this policy should be pushed 
forward as fast as possible. At present there are some districts 
which have no farms, there are few Union Farms, and the only 
work that is being done in the actual villages is carried out by 
an inadequate staff of demonstrators. The most essential 
feature of any scheme for the distribution of improved varieties 
of seed is the maintenance of efficient local organisations, 
which will see not only that improved seeds are used, but that 
the improved results are maintained. The Royal Commission 
on Agriculture pointed out that "the work of the plant breeder 
in evolving improved varieties of crops is obviously merely a 
means to an end, and its value depends entirely on the efficiency 
of the link with the cultivator for whose benefit the improved 
variety is evolved 1 ." 

210. Agricultural development in the Punjab. Our 

Commission was greatly impressed by the work which has been 
carried out by the Agricultural Departments of the provinces 
we visited, particularly in the Punjab and the United Provinces. 
In the Punjab, there is a larger research staff than in any 
other Agricultural Department of India. For experimental 
purposes, the Agricultural Department has between 12 and 13 
thousand acres, in addition to which each of the 5 Deputy 
Directors of Agriculture has a 500-acre farm. There are also 
District Farms of 100 acres each, half of which is kept for 
experimental purposes in case the results obtained at the 

1 Report, paragraph 101. 



104 

Central Farms are not suitable to particular areas. The 
department has now distributed nearly 3 lakhs of maunds of 
improved wheat seed, and 90 thousand maunds of improved 
cotton seed. The seeds are supplied either from Government 
farms or from special grantees who are under contract to supply 
pure seeds. Commission agents are appointed all over the 
province Mr the sale of improved seeds, and are paid a 
commission of 2 annas a maund for wheat seed and 3 annas a 
maund for cotton seed. Wheat seed is sold by these agents at 
2 annas a maund above the current market price in order to 
ensure that the seed will not be used for food, and we were told 
by the Director of Agriculture that the cultivators are only too 
glad to pay the extra cost for the improved varieties of seed. 

211. Agricultural development in the United Provinces. 

In the United Provinces, the Agricultural Department 
maintains one college and two schools. There is a research 
branch which carries out experiments in improved varieties of 
sugarcane, cotton, oilseeds, pulses, agricultural chemistry and 
manures; and an engineering section which is concerned with 
the boring of masonry wells, construction of tube wells and the 
design and manufacture of improved agricultural implements. 
In addition, there are sections for the development of 
horticultural gardens, and a marketing section. In order to 
carry the results of the research work to the cultivators, a rural 
development organisation has been established, with a budget 
allotment of 40-3 lakhs this year. Under the Rural Develop- 
ment Officer there is an assistant for each division, and in each 
district there is an association with an executive committee of 
three members, one of whom must be an official. These 
committees co-ordinate all rural development activities in the 
district. Each Rural Development Assistant has 15 or 16 
centres under his control, each covering an area of about* 25 
villages, and each of these centres has a seed store in charge of a 
Supervisor. There are now about 600 seed stores in the 
province serving about 20,000 villages. The Supervisor is 
responsible for agricultural improvements in the village 
attached to his seed store. He has under him 3 kamdars who 
arrange demonstrations on the cultivators' fields and distribute 
seeds to be sown in compact blocks. The cultivators have to 
enter into an agreement that they will sell the produce to the 
department if so required, and that they will carry out 
departmental instructions in raising the crop. A portion of 
the produce from the improved seed is purchased by the 
department and stored for distribution in the following year. 



105 

The object is to multiply the improved seed locally until the 
inferior varieties have been entirely replaced. The seed stores 
also stock improved agricultural implements which they sell 
to the cultivators, or lend to them for demonstration purposes. 

212. Manuring. Connected with the question of improved 
yield is that of better manuring. Owing to its small grant, the 
Agricultural Department has been able to do little until this 
year to supply manure. It has however carried out research 
work, and has been successful in producing a manure from 
organic refuse mixed with cow-dung. It is a regrettable fact 
that there is a great manurial loss throughout the Province, 
and that the cultivators are very slow to adopt better methods. 
We think that there is a great deal of room for improvement in 
this respect. Even if it is not at present possible to supply 
departmental fertilisers, there is no reason why properly 
constructed silage pits should not be the general rule instead of 
the exception. Wherever rural reconstruction has made 
headway in the Punjab, each cultivator has constructed his 
own silage pit in which he deposits various kinds of refuse. 
The Royal Commission on Agriculture pointed out the 
possibilities of improvement and observed : "The Indian 
cultivator has much to learn from the Chinese and the Japanese 
cultivator in regard to the manufacture of composts. 
Artificial fertilisers are used as little in China as they are in 
India; but there is no organic refuse of any kind in that country 
which does not find its way back to the fields as a fertiliser 1 ". 

Artificial fertilisers are at present little used in Bengal but 
they are capable of increasing the yield considerably. It was 
stated by the Imperial Chemical Industries Limited, that 
reliable experiments have given an increased yield amounting 
to 6-54 maunds of grain, and 15-28 maunds of straw by the 
application of 120 Ibs. of sulphate of ammonia to one acre of 
paddy land at the time of transplantation. The cost of this 
fertiliser for one acre is Rs. 7-2. The increased yield at RvS. 2 
a maund for the grain is worth Rs. 13, and for the straw at 
3 annas a maund, Rs. 2-14. 

213. Increase of Dofasli area. Given an agricultural 
organisation in the rural areas it would be possible to effect 
a considerable increase in the twice- cropped area and to pay 
more attention to the rotation of crops. There is plenty of 
oncfe-cropped land in Bengal which is capable of growing a 
second crop. The simplest form of growing a second crop 

1 Report, paragraph 183. 



106 

is to broadcast a pulse like keshari when the water is drying 
up on the aman growing fields. This practice is in vogue in 
some areas of Bengal, but is unknown in others. It not only 
provides extra income to the cultivator, but has also a 
beneficial effect on th'e soil. All leguminous plants like pulses 
have a nitrogenous value. In the Punjab and the United 
Provinces^ it is common to find a pulse or fodder crop sown 
along with wheat. 

Although there seems to be no scope for further canal 
irrigation over the greater part of the Province, we think that 
there are great possibilities for smaller schemes, and that the 
cultivation of rabi crops might be greatly extended by 
irrigation. In the Punjab and United Provinces, irrigation 
in areas where there are no canals is carried out by Persian 
wheels, and ordinary wells from which the water 'is raised 
by bullock-power. There is no reason why the same methods 
should not be used ^ in Bengal. It would also be possible to 
extend irrigation either by tube wells or by portable pumps 
which would draw water from rivers, beets or wells. The 
practicability of sinking tube wells for this purpose would 
depend on^ the flow, and the depth to which a well had to be 
sunk; but irrigation by portable pumps would be practical and 
inexpensive, even though its utility would be confined to areas 
bordering rivers and beels. 

214. Better cultivation of rabi crops. In addition to the 
possibility of increasing the twice-cropped area, there is much 
room for improved methods of cultivation, particularly in the 
case of rabi crops. These are often put down as a catch crop. 
The land is roughly ploughed up once and no attempt is made 
to break up the large clods of earth. The crop is then sown 
broadcast and left to struggle up. In order to produce good 
rabi crops, it is essential to plough several times and as deeply 
as possible. 

215. Extension of valuable crops. There are also 
possibilities of extending the cultivation of valuable crops 
such as betel, sugarcane, tobacco, various kinds of condiments 
and vegetables. Of these, sugarcane might be cultivated on a 
much larger scale in Bengal. The area under sugarcane is 
only 181*6 thousand acres which is quite insufficient for the 
needs of the Province. Most of the sugar consumed in Bengal 
is imported. Yet experiments have shown that sugarcane can 
be grown over a very much larger area. Even in the 
undulating country, which covers part of Malda, Dinajpur and 
Rajshahi districts, experiments have been successful. Along 
with the question of extending the cultivation of sugarcane, 
should be considered the question of fixing the price on the 



107 

same lines as has been done in the United Provinces and Bihar. 
As we have mentioned in Appendix VIII, this policy has been 
very profitable to the cultivators of sugarcane in those 
provinces. "Sone" or hemp, could be grown on a greatly 
increased scale. It is preferred to jute by fishermen for their 
nets and ropes, it is an excellent cattle fodder; and if ploughed 
into the land, a most valuable manure. * 

More attention should also be paid to the cultivation and 
marketing of vegetables and to the planting of fruit trees, 
trees for fuel, and bamboos. In Madras, groves of casuarina 
trees provide firewood, which is carted to the towns and sold 
to the profit of the agricultural labourers. The possibility of 
growing bamboos over large and compact areas should also 
be examined. There must be plenty or land in a district like 
Nadia which could be used for this purpose. There is no 
reason why the supply of bamboos for the manufacture of 
paper should come from outside the Province, and from 
distances which must involve a higher railway freight than 
would be payable from supply centres situated closer to the 
paper mills. This question was examined by the Board of 
Economic Enquiry, but it is not known whether the results 
have been satisfactory. 

IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE. 

216. Recommendation of the Royal Commission on Agricul- 
ture. The (Royal Commission on Agriculture made three 
main recommendations with regard to irrigation in Bengal 1 
firstly that a survey should be made for a general scheme 
of irrigation development; secondly that the functions of the 
Irrigation* Department should be divided into two sections: 
irrigation proper, and navigation, embankments and drainage; 
thirdly that a committee of experts should be appointed, 
including at least one expert who is familiar with the 
management of deltas of large rivers in other countries. The 
first recommendation has been followed up, and a contour 
survey has been undertaken. The other two recommendations 
have not been put into effect. The chief irrigation problem 
in Bengal is the deterioration of the rivers, particularly in 
western and central Bengal. This has had such evil effects 
on health and on the fertility of the soil in parts of the 
Province that we think it desirable to support strongly the 
Royal Commission's recommendation, and to bring the best 
available expert opinion to bear on the problem. 

1 Report, paragraph 292. 



108 

217. Working of Irrigation Acts. The Acts under which 
improvement schemes can be carried out are the Bengal 
Agricultural and Sanitary Improvement Act of 1920 and thte 
Bengal Development Act of 1935. The former is little used. 
Most Collectors have had the discouraging experience of 
initiating under this Act schemes which have come to nothing 
because of the cumbrous procedure, and the difficulty 01 
financing them,. The chief financial objection is that the 
capitalised cost of maintenance is included in the project 
estimate and the total amount to be recovered from the tenants 
is thereby raised to a high figure. The whole of this amount, 
together with interest, is recoverable .within a comparatively 
short period, and the annual instalments payable by the tenants 
probably exceed considerably the value of the increased yield. 
It is doubtful whether this Act at present serves any practical 
purpose. Its defects have been removed by tne Bengal 
Development Act and it is this Act upon which reliance must 
be placed for carrying out major development schemes. 
Experience has however shown that the utility of such schemes 
is not always appreciated by those for whose benefit they are 
made. The chief difficulty in Bengal arises over the payment 
of water rate. In some years the rainfall may be sufficient: 
in others insufficient. The payment of water rate in a year 
of sufficient rainfall is really an insurance against the failure 
of the next monsoon. In the Punjab and the United Provinces, 
the supply of water is essential. It is therefore possible to 
make the payment of water rate optional, and the cultivators 
willingly pay as much as Rs. 7-8 per acre for rice land, and 
even higher rates for sugarcane. We think that in spite of the 
difficulties which have been encountered over some of the major 
irrigation schemes, it would be a mistake not to pursue the 
policy of framing and carrying out schemes ui\der the 
Development Act. 

218. Problem of embankments. Some embankments were 
in existence before the Permanent Settlement: others have been 
subsequently constructed. It is now accepted that a policy 
of flood protection by embankments interferes with the natural 
spill of a river and is bound to lead to its deterioration in 
course of time owing to the deposit of silt in the river bed. 
The consequence is that the embankments have to be raised 
higher and higher. The drainage system also deteriorates in 
the protected area. It is extremely difficult to find any solution 
of this problem. Technically, the proper course would be to 
remove the embankments and allow free play to the flow of 
river spill; but where there are important vested interests 
to be protected this course would hardly be feasible. Although 



109 

there might be an improvement in public health, and in the 
productivity of the soil owing to the silt carried by the flood 
watter; there might be serious loss to property, especially in 
years of high flood. It would be essential in the first instance 
to carry out a survey which would enable the department to 
decide to what extent the flood water would be likely to extend, 
and during what period it would be likely to remain on the 
land. The most practicable course would be to draw off the 
flood water on to the surrounding country through controlled 
escapes constructed on the embankments. 

219. Drainage and .waterways. In eastern Bengal and 
parts of western Bengal, such as Arambagh and Ghatal, the 
problem is not one, of supplying water to make up a deficient or 
uncertain rainfall, but of draining away the excess rainfall 
and maintaining communications in rivers which continually 
change their Bourse. One of the recommendations of the 
Royal Commission on Agriculture was that an expert 
committee should consider and report upon the advisability of 
setting up a Provincial Waterways Board 1 . In principle we 
are in favour of this recommendation, but we do not think 
it possible to separate the problem of drainage from that of the 
waterways. The Irrigation Department has already a number 
of drainage projects which will be put into operation as funds 
become available. If it were considered advisable by 
Government to establish a waterways board, we think it 
desirable that the Irrigation Department should be strongly 
represented on it, and that the object should be to ensure 
proper drainage in preference to the interests of navigation 
and river borne trade. 



INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT. 

Before suggesting the lines on which industries in rural 
areas and cottage industries might be developed, we desire to 
give a brief account of the work that has been done in the 
Punjab and the United Provinces. 

220. Small scale industries in the Punjab. In the Punjab 
the Department of Industries has an annual budget of 21 lakhs. 
Its principal object is to develop home industries, and to help 
the people in the marketing of their products. The most 
important industry in the province is the textile industry. 
Government has established an institution for research work 
connected with the hand-loom industry, and the manufacture 

Deport, paragraph 292 (end). 



110 

of hosiery and other articles. It retains experts who give 
advice to the manufacturers. As hand- woven cloth cannot 
compete with cloth produced by the mills, the department is 
teaching the weavers how to print designs on cloth. It is 
also developing the production of woollens and tweeds. 

Under the State Aid of Industries Act, the department 
grants loUns to help the establishment of small industrial 
conc'erns, and guarantees a return of 3^ per cent, for the first 
five years. For this purpose there is" an annual budget of 
2 lakhs. A further 2 lakhs is also allotted for encouraging 
the manufacture of useful articles which cannot be exploited 
through lack of funds. Such grants are not refundable.. 

221. Demonstration parties. There are also peripatetic 
demonstration parties which tour the districts and give courses 
of training. The policy is to keep these parties at one centre 
for at least a year and sometimes for two years. At each 
centre the students are trained in batches and are given a six 
months' course. The subjects in which training is given are 
refining of oil, cloth printing, manufacture of castor oil, fibre 
(industries, weaving, spinning, carding, glue making, rope 
making, pottery, dyeing and gur manufacture. 

222. Marketing schemes. There are three schemes for 
providing marketing facilities. The first is for products of the 
hand-loom industry; the second for the marketing of articles 
produced by the small wool workers; and the third is the 
general marketing scheme for the remaining industries. The 
first two schemes are financed by the Government of India, 
and the third by the Provincial Government. 

223. Cottage industries. The chief subsidiary occupations 
designed to occupy the spar'e time of the cultivators are fruit 
farming and fruit preservation, poultry keeping, bee keeping 
and lac cultivation. A great deal of work has been done to 
develop the fruit industry in the Punjab. The department 
has a fruit-specialist and an Assistant Professor of 
Horticulture, as well as a large staff which is employed on 
research work. This branch of the department is financed 
partly from provincial revenues and partly by the Imperial 
Council of Agricultural Research. Experimental fruit 
gardens have been started in different localities and a number 
of fruit nurseries have been established for the production and 
sale of reliable plants. Courses of instruction of varying 
length are given in all branches of the fruit industry both 
fruit growing and fruit preservation at the Lyallpur 
Agricultural College which the Commission visited. Various 
kinds of fruit drinks, such as lemon squash and mango squash 



Ill 

and condiments such as tomato juice and tomato ketchup, are 
manufactured, bottled and preserved, all at a very low cost. 
All the processes which are taught in this section of the College 
can be carried out without any outlay of capital by a cultivator 
in his home. The only exception is the process of canning, for 
which a machine can be purchased at a cost of Rs. 100. 

A central poultry farm has been established with'subsidiary 
farms in the districts where courses of instruction are given 
in poultry keeping, and research work is carried out to 
improve the breed. Two bee keeping stations have also been 
opened and courses of instruction are given annually. 

224. Cottage industries in the United Provinces. In the 

United Provinces, the development of cottage industries has 
received special attention during the last two years. The 
budget allotment for this branch of rural reconstruction is 
24 lakhs. Two polytechnic institutes have been opened for 
training in village arts and crafts. One of the conditions of 
training is that the student must settle down in a rural area 
and follow the craft in which he has been trained. In order 
to develop the hand-loom industry a number of stores have 
been opened, which are managed on co-operative lines, and 
supply raw materials and new designs to the weavers. 
Peripatetic demonstration parties have also been organised in 
the same way as in the Punjab. The industries in which 
training is given are improved processes of manufacturing gur, 
handspun or hand-woven cloth, hand-made paper, and the 
production of woollens through co-operative societies and 
stores which organise and control production. 

The department has made some progress in providing for 
the marketing of goods produced by these cottage industries, but 
a large development is to be undertaken in the near future. 
It is proposed to establish a chain of 140 stores in rural areas, 
witlf 10 central stores at divisional headquarters. 

225. Unemployment of cultivators in Bengal. In Bengal, 
especially in the districts which grow only aman paddy, "the 
cultivators are unemployed for a greater part of the year than 
in other provinces. Attempts have been made in the past to 
provide employment, mainly for the bhadralok classes, by 
sending out demonstration parties to teach various forms of 
manufacture; bi^t there has been no organised attempt to 
develop cottage industries on a provincial scale, or provide 
employment to occupy the spare time of the cultivators. The 
department has been unable to make much progress in 
developing industries owing to its inadequate budget 
allotment. Last year the allotment amounted to 16 lakhs. In 



112 

the weaving section there are 39 schools and 10 demonstration 
parties, a number quite inadequate to the needs of the 
Province. The department also maintains a number of 
demonstration parties for the manufacture of umbrellas, 
leather goods, coir, soap and other articles, but as we have 
pointed out the work of these parties is not concerned with 
giving employment to the cultivating classes. 

226. Lines of industrial development. Government has 
recently appointed an Industrial Survey Committee to r'eport 
on cottage industries and small industries as well as on the 
key and heavy industries. The report of this Committee is not 
at present available. 

In view of the increasing pressure of population on the land 
it is obviously desirable to encourage industrial development 
with thte object of diverting part of the population from 
agriculture to industry. If it were possible to localise big 
industries in rural areas, more Bengalis might be given 
employment. But the main industries like cotton and jute are 
centralised, and it is idle to expect that agriculturists from the 
rural area of Bengal will seek employment therfe in any large 
numbers. More than 90 per cent, of the employees are 
up-country men. Their standard of living is lower than that 
of the Bengalis, who are by nature disinclined to leave their 
homes and villages. 

The development of factories in rural areas and of cottage 
industries seems to offer the best possibility, but it is unlikely 
that capital, which is notoriously shy of industrial ventures, 
will be forthcoming in Bengal unless Government take the 
initiative. This could be done by purchasing a certain 
percentage of the shares; by guaranteeing dividends up to a 
certain limit; or by assuring the purchase of a certain quantity 
of the manufactured articles. 

227. Sugar factories. The industries which we consider 
most suitable for development are sugar factories, small jute 
spinning mills, and small cotton spinning mills. 

As we have pointed out, the production of sugar in Bengal 
is very limited. The Province needs at least 25 more factories 
for the production of the sugar which it consumes. At present 
there are only 5 large and 7 small factories in the Province. 
The report of the Industrial Survey Committee will perhaps 
indicate the areas in which sugar factories might be located, 
but if, as we have recommended, steps are taken to extend the 
cultivation of sugarcane, the policy of establishing factories 
would have to be co-ordinated with that of increasing the area 



113 

under sugarcane. The establishment of sugar factories would 
probably give an impetus to the cultivation of sugarcane and 
would certainly increase the income of the growers. 

228. Jute spinning mills. The object of establishing 
small jute spinning mills would be to supply yarn to the 
cultivators, who would be taught jute weaving for the 
production of articles required for every-day use, such as 
gunny-bags for transporting 'agricultural produce', carpets, 
satranchis and rope. This form of weaving would help to 
occupy their spare time, and would be profitable provided that 
proper organisation exists and there is a centralised agency for 
supplying yarn and warps. The production of yarn itself 
could not be carried out by the cultivators as it 'is a much 
longer and more difficult process than the actual weaving. 

229. Cotton spinning mills. Similarly small cotton 
spinning mills could be established, which would supply yarn at 
competitive wholesale rates for the development of the hand- 
loom industry in rural areas. Spinning by charka is not 
recommended, as that method would not produce sufficient yarn 
from the whole of one village to supply a loom for two days. 
As a practical solution it can be discounted. From the yarn 
supplied by the spinning mills, cloths, towels and lungis could 
be manufactured in rural areas. The average family requires 
Rs. 15 a year to clothe itself. The cost of the yarn is Rs. 9 
so that there is a saving of Rs. 6 if the cultivator weaves from 
yarn supplied to him. Lungis are manufactured on a 
negligible scale in Bengal: they are imported to the value of 
lakhs of rupees every year from Burma. The establishment of 
cotton mills would however depend on the extension of the 
area under cotton, which at present covers a very small acreage 
in Bengal. Here again, co-ordination would be necessary 
between the Agricultural Department and the Department of 
Industries. 

OTHER INDUSTRIES. 

230. Oil mills. In addition to the establishment of 
sugar, jute spinning and cotton spinning factories, the 
possibility of starting oil mills, tobacco factories and fruit, 
canning factories should be examined. There is a large 
jmmber of oil mills in Bengal with a capital of nearly one crore 
of rupees. The Agricultural Department has been experiment- 
ing recently with seed for mustard oil, and it is expected that 
sufficient seed will shortly be available for the mills. 
Previously, mustard seed used to be imported from Etawa and 

9 



114 

Agra. If a sufficient supply of seed can be made available, the 
question of establishing small oil mills in the chief producing 
localities could be taken up. 

231. Tobacco factories. The chief tobacco growing district 
is Rnngpur, from which 99 per cent, of the best variety is 
exported fco Burma and comes back to India after being 
manufactured into cheroots. A large quantity of cigars and 
cheroots is also imported into Calcutta from Madras, 
Trichinopoly and other centres. There is no reason why 
cheroots should not be manufactured in Bengal. The only 
firm which is known to have undertaken this form of 
manufacture is Andrew Yule and Company. 

232. Fruit canning. We have referred to the develop- 
ment 6f fruit canning and preservation in the Punjab. 
Development on these lines is equally possible in Bengal. The 
cultivation of lemons could be extended; oranges are available 
from Darjeeling district; and good quality mangoes are 
plentiful in Malda and Murshidabad districts. 

233. Silk and lac. These two districts also produce 
almost the entire supply of silk and lac. The silk industry was 
adversely affected by the import some years ago of huge 
quantities of Japanese silk. It is understood that the 
desirability of imposing an increased duty on silk has been 
considered by the Central Government, but we think that 
before attempting to raise a tariff wall against foreign 
products, the local silk industry should be put on a sound 
commercial basis. In the past there has been no commercial 
demand for local silk thread because it had not been re-reeled 
by machinery. 

The lac industry enjoyed a boom during the last war, but 
during the slump it became almost extinct. Lac is produced 
in the sandy strip bordering the Ganges, and its manufacture 
into stick lac is carried out by very crude methods. Most of the 
lac supplied to Calcutta comes from Bihar districts but there 
is no reason why with proper organisation the industry in 
Bengal should not be revived. 

COTTAGE INDUSTRIES AND OTHER SOURCES OF INCOME. 

234. Paddy husking. The development of cottage 
industries is of primary importance in consideration of the 
number of people which such industries might employ. There 
are many lines along which development can be carried out. 



115 

The industry which might be developed in every village is that 
of. paddy husking. The old method of husking by dhenki has 
almost disappeared, owing to the growth in the number of the 
rice mills. There are nearly 400 mills in Bengal the great 
majority of which are situated in the Presidency and Burdwan 
divisions. The rice which the mills produce is Deficient in 
vitamins and is believed by some to be responsible for the 
increase of beri-beri. We do not think it is possible to place 
restrictions on the existing rice mills, but we recommend 
strongly that Government should consider the desirability of 
restricting by legislation their establishment in the future. In 
order to develop paddy husking in rural areas the best course 
would be to follow a policy of decentralisation, and to introduce 
into the villages a simple type of husking machine which can 
be worked by hand. A sample machine has been produced by 
the Department of Industries, which has been proved not to 
cause any deterioration in the food value of the rice. The cost 
of husking rice by this machine is not greater than the cost of 
husking in the mills. 

235. Other cottage industries. There are great possibili- 
ties for the manufacture of carpets, satranchis and other 
articles from coir in all districts where cocoanut trees grow 
abundantly. This is especially the case in Barisal and 
Noakhali districts, where it might be possible to arrange for 
the export of coir. 

Baskets are commonly manufactured in the village but 
there is at present no organised centre for this industry. The 
Department of Industries is trying to divert part of its 
available funds to technical schools which would give 
instruction in basket making. 

Pottery is imported into Bengal on a large scale although 
the materials exist in the Province for local manufacture. 
The department had established two factories at Belghuria 
in which there were 700 employees. There is no reason why 
the manufacture of pottery should not be extended. 

236. Poultry and milk. Many Muslim cultivators keep 
poultry and make a subsidiary income from the sale of fowls 
and eggs. There is great scope for development in this 
industry. At present the Agricultural Department has 
established poultry centres in 13 districts. A suitable cross 
breed has been evolved which give>s a much larger egg than that 
of the deshi fowls. In Hooghly district, there is a Poultry 
Union comprising 79 villages, and in Rajshahi an equally 



116 

successful union has been established. The eggs fetch a better 
price in the market, and the fowls can be sold at 4 to 8 annas 
more than the deshi fowls. Another possibility is the 
development of subsidiary industries based on milk, such as 
the production of ghee and chhana. This is an industry which 
the cultivators cannot develop without financial assistance. 

237. Marketing organisation. The Royal Commission on 
Agriculture drew attention to the necessity of marketing 
organisations to enable the cultivator to obtain an adequate 
price for his produce. They recommended the development of 
co-operative sale societies as the ideal 1 . This system has 
produced remarkable results in some countries, especially in 
Denmark. In Japan there is a central depot which keeps in 
touch with village industries, gives them advice, and markets 
the finished articles. In Bengal there is only one Marketing 
Officer under the Department of Industries, and one Senior 
Marketing Officer with four Assistant Marketing Officers 
under the Agricultural Department. The agricultural section 
of the marketing organisation is part of the scheme for the 
whole of India, which is financed mainly by the Government of 
India. The programme aims at the control of all markets in 
Bengal which are concerned with agricultural produce and it 
will be put into operation as soon as the Agricultural Crops 
Marketing Bill has been passed by the legislature. 

We regard the development of a marketing organisation both 
for agricultural and industrial products as being of the utmost 
importance As an illustration we may refer to the results of 
a survey which was recently made by the Department of 
Industrie? of the bell-metal industry. It was found that the 
total annual value of the manufactured articles is 50 lakhs, of 
which the actual manufacturers are receiving barely three- 
fourths of a lakh. Owing to the absence of a proper 
organisation for marketing the goods, the profits are going 
almost entirely to the middlemen. 

238. Improvement of cattle and milk supply. Various 
reports have referred to the inadequate yield of milk in India 2 . 
It is estimated that the average yield is as little as 600 Ib. per 
annum, or less than one seer a day, whereas it should be 
between 2,000 and 3,000 Ib. The average consumption per 

1 Report, paragraph 342. 

2 Report of the Royal Commission on Agriculture, paragraph 196. 

Report on the development of the Cattle and Dairy Industries of India, by Norman C. 
Wright, M.A., D.SC., Ph.D., Chapter IX. 



117 

head of fresh milk is nearly half the amount required according 
to the existing dietary standards for the maintenance of 
satisfactory growth and health . All provinces have been trying 
with the help of financial assistance from the Government of 
India to improve the breed of their cattle. In the United 
Provinces, a great development in the Veterinary service is 
under contemplation. It is proposed to open 250 tattle breed- 
ing centres under the supervision of trained stockmen. 
In the Punjab the Government Farm for Hissar cattle is much 
the largest stock-breeding farm in British India; and that 
province has made great progress in the castration of scrub 
bulls. In Bengal the improvement in the breed of cattle has 
received attention from 1927. Between 1927 and 1939 
upwards of 1,700 stud bulls have been issued to villages, but 
the number of scrub bulls castrated is a very small percentage 
of the total stock. The Veterinary staff employed in the 
districts has little knowledge of animal husbandry. A training 
college has recently been opened, which will, it is hoped, 
remedy this defect.' 

Until a substantial increase is made in the budget of the 
Agricultural Department, it can only be expected that progress 
will be slow. We may point out however that the success of a 
scheme for improving the breed of cattle depends upon a 
careful grouping of the stud bulls in selected localities, as 
opposed to distribution over a wide area; and on regular 
inspection which will ensure that they are properly housed and 
fed and are not overworked. 

239. Improved fodder supply. There is also scope for 
improvement in the supply of cattle fodder. Most cultivators 
feed their cattle on chopped straw, arid would be unwilling to 
surrender any of their crop-growing land for the cultivation 
of ftapier grass or other fodder crops. This is one of the most 
regrettable features of animal husbandry in Bengal. In the 
Punjab it is the general practice to grow fodder crops for 
cattle and in the canal irrigated areas, the water rate for 
fodder crops is assessed at half the normal rate. The 
Agricultural Department of Bengal has distributed a large 
quantity of napier grass cuttings and fodder seeds to the 
retainers of stud bulls. It is desirable that the distribution of 
such fodder crops should be much more widely extended. We 
realise the difficulty of inducing the cultivators to give up lands 
for this purpose, but in most villages there must be small areas 
of high land or waste land on which napier grass and other 
fodder crops could be cultivated. 



118 

240. Other suggestions. Before concluding this section of 
the report, we desire to refer to two suggestions which have 
been made to us in evidence. The first is that it is essential to 
have co-operation between all the nation building departments, 
and that their activities should be controlled by a Board 
consisting of three experts, who would co-ordinate the work of 
all the depaitments. The second suggestion is that in order to 
raise additional revenue for the development of industry in 
Bengal, a tax of one-half per cent, should be imposed on all 
transactions between buyers and sellers in the phatka market. 

We would also emphasise the desirability of keeping in 
touch with industrial developments in other provinces. We are 
informed that no officer of the Department of Industries has 
ever been sent to examine the developments which have taken 
place or are under contemplation of other Provincial 
Governments. 



CHAPTER VI. 

The Nature and Assessment of Rept. 

RATES OF RENT AT THE PERMANENT SETTLEMENT. 

Before proceeding to discuss the questions raised in the 
third and fourth terms of reference, it is desirable to give a brief 
account of the rate of rent that prevailed at the time of the 
Permanent Settlement; of the manner in which the level of rent 
has been determined in Bengal; and of the systems of assessment 
in force in the provinces which we have visited. 

241. In other provinces. The evidence is overwhelming 
to the effect that in the permanently settled areas of Bihar, 
I s : -nlras and the United Provinces, the burden of rent, including 
the abwabs recognised by the Permanent Settlement Regula- 
tions, amounted just before the Permanent Settlement to the 
utmost that the raiyats could bear, and was only limited by the 
knowledge of the zamindars and revenue collectors that they 
would be unable to pay the revenue if the raiyats were driven 
to surrender their lands and move to other estates. 

The Collector of Gaya wrote in 1789 that some of the 
zamindars began to decrease rents, which they recognised to be 
excessive, when they heard that there was going to he a 
Permanent Settlement. Cash rents were mentioned by him to 
have been reduced in some places from 30, to 20 shillings a 
bigha for sugarcane to 12 or 8 shillings. The rent for rice land 
is said to have been 1 4 or 5 shillings for a bigha estimated to 
measure two-thirds of an acre. From produce rents, one- 
eighfh of the crop was deducted as the cost of appraisement, 
to be borne equally by landlord and raiyat and only half of the 
balance remained with the raiyat. This practice is said to 
have been prevalent also in Burdwan and other parts of Bengal 2 . 
In the United Provinces rents varied at the Permanent 
Settlement from 8 annas to Rs. 2-8 per bigha, and for indigo 
lands the rate was between Re. 1-10 and Rs. 2-8 3 . 

In Vizagapatam the rent was as much as Rs. 5 an acre. 

^ 

1 Law's Resources of Bengal, pages 60 to 62, foot-note. The rupee was then worth 
2s. 6d. 

*Ibid, pages 103 and 104, foot-note. 

Law and Custom of India: (Kingsbury, Parbury and Allen, 1825). 



120 

242. In Bengal. The evidence from Bengal is more 
conflicting. Grant valued the produce of Bengal, as the 
province then stood, at 851 lakhs, and the rental at 284 lakhs. 
According to this estimate the rent amounted to approximately 
one-third of the gross produce, and as the cultivated area was 
estimated to be 18,000 square miles, out of a total of 90,000 
square miles, the average rent would be Rs. 2-8 per acre. 
Grant also states that the rates were Re. 1-8 a bigha in the 
vicinity of Calcutta and that elsewhere Re. 1 a bigha was more 
common 1 . The bigha to which he referred measured -46 of an 
acre. The rent for 8 lakhs of bighas in the 24-Parganas is 
mentioned as having been Rs. 12.3 lakhs, which gives an 
average of Rs. 3-4 an acre 2 . 

On the other hand, Colebrooke estimated the cultivated area 
to be one-third of the whole 3 . If this figure for the cultivated 
area is accepted, and a deduction made for the revenue free 
lands, the rate of rent would be about Re. 1-5 an acre. 

The Collector of Dinajpur reported in 1789 that the fixed 
nirik for first class land was Rs. 3, for second class land Rs. 2-8 
and for third class land Rs. 2 4 . The Collector of Chittagong 
reported in 1771 that land which originally paid Re. 1 was then 
paying Rs. 4-10-101 5 . The rate would, he said, have been 
raised to Rs. 5-5-10 had the tax commonly called "the two- 
anna tax", which was in reality an eight-anna tax on the asal 
jama, been levied by Muhammad Reza Khan in order to defray 
the expenses of the Tipper a expedition. 

A letter written in 1770 from Gobindgunj 6 to the Supervisor 
of Rangpur encloses a complete jamabandi of a village in which 
is shown the area in possession of each tenant, the asal jama 
and the abwabs. The total area is 471 bighas and the total 
rent, including abwabs, Rs. 696. The area of the bigha is not 
mentioned but it was probably half an acre. The average, rent 
was therefore almost Rs. 3 an acre. 

Between 1771 and 1780, Mr. Harrington was specially 
deputed to estimate the actual assets of two parganas in 
Rangpur. He reported that instead of paying the parganaC 
rates, which were the basis of the asal jama shown in the 

Appendix to Fifth Report Firminger, Volume IT, page 320. 
2 Appendix to Fifth Report Firminger, Volume II, page 258. 
3 Colebrooke's Husbandry of Bengal, page 17, foot-note. 
4 Letter from Mr. Hatch, Collector of Dinajpur, dated llth December 1789. 
8 Records of Chittagong, 1760-1773, page 27. 

The letter copy books of the Resident at the Durbar at Murshidabad, 1769-70 
Firminger, pages 29 to 31. 



121 

Kammgos' papers, the cultivators were actually paying a flat 
rate of 15 annas per acre. In his own words "pargana rates 
were completely divorced from reality 1 . 

From Midnapore it was reported in 1768 that a taluq of 
100 bighas had been granted at progressive rates of rent rising 
in the fourth year to one hundred rupees. The rate of Re. 1 a 
bigha was said to be rather less than the common rent that 
would be paid for the same quantity of land according to its 
usual value in that part of the Province 2 . 

The Collector of Jessore reported that the nominal rate of 
rent in that district was Rs. 3 a bigha, but that the actual rate 
was only Re. 1, "as the raiyats possessed 15 bighas, whereas 
the pattas stated 5 only, and upon this last quantity the 
assessment of Rs. 3 for each is made 3 . Holwell, describing 
in 1765 the manner in which the zamindars, farmers and 
raiyats concealed their assets wrote: "I may justly aver there 
is not a tenant in Indostan but possesses and occupies a greater 
quantity of land than his patta expresses, or than he pays rent 

for It extremely well answers the tenant's purpose to 

possess if he can for a small bribe more land than he pays 
for 4 ." F y 

In Chakla Burdwan the average rate of rent is stated by 
'Grant to have been ascertained after local inquiry in 1763 to 
be Rs. 2 per bigha. The bigha measured 46 of an acre and 
the rate was therefore Rs. 4-5-7 per acre 5 . 

Many other instances could be given to indicate the varying 
rates of assessment in Bengal, but the following will suffice. 
Information from the Record Rooms of Murshidabad, Jessore 
and Rangpur shows that in Murshidabad 173 bighas were 
assessed at Rs. 141; in Jessore 305 bighas were assessed at 
Rs. 225; and in Rjin-jpur 637 bighas were assessed at 
Rs 1 . 1,080. In Patiladaha pargana the rate was from 4 annas 
to Re. 1 per standard bigha, but separate rates were paid for 
special crops; Rs. 3 was paid for onions and chillies, and Rs. 2 
or Rs. 2-8 for vsugarcane. In Baharbund parganas, where the 
bigha measured two-thirds of an acre, the rate for first class 
land was from Rs. 5 to Rs. 7, for second class land Rs. 4 to 

1 Rangpur Settlement Report. 

District Records Midnapore, Volume II, 1768-1770, page 55. 

3 Harrington 's Analysis of Regulations Volume III, page 4. 

4 Holwell's Interesting Historical Events relating to the Province of Bengal, 
page 223. 

'Fifth Report Firminger, Volume II, page 416. 



122 

Rs. 6, and for third class land from Rs. 2 to Rs. 4. If we 
accept Grant's estimate the general average was Re. 1 for a 
bigha measuring -46 of an acre, or Rs. 2-3 per acre. The 
average rate of raiyati holding on fixed rates in Bengal is 
Rs. 2-15 per acre, which is not very much less than the average 
rent paid by occupancy raiyats. 

243. Relation of rent to produce. In Bengal, as opposed 
to Bihar, most rents were paid in cash; where they were paid 
in kind, they varied, according to Colebrooke 1 , between one- 
third and nine-sixteenths of the produce. According to 
the firman issued by the Emperor Aurangzeb in 1668, the 
incidence of full customary rates in reclaimed lands was to be 
estimated at half the produce 2 . But it is certain that in 
practice cash rents in Bengal did not reach this level. It is 
difficult in the absence of any detailed information to find a 
definite relationship between the rent and the produce at the 
time of the Permanent Settlement. Tt is believed that the price 
of paddy was more like 6 annas than 8 annas a maund at that 
time. Prior to the Permanent Settlement it seems to have been 
much the same, though it rose considerably higher in years of 
famine. In 1781 the Collector of Rangpur sent to Calcutta 
a lakh of maunds of rice which he had purchased at 8 annas a 
maund, and in 1768 the price of paddy in Rangpur was between 
three and four maunds per rupee. The cheapest rate known 
for husked rice was 2 maunds 24 seers to the rupee, but in the 
famine of 1787, the price of rice rose to between 18 and 25 seers 
per rupee 3 . 

Colebrooke states that "rice in the husk sold, one season, 
as low as eight mans for the rupiya. In the following year it 
was eagerly purchased at the rate of a rupiya for two mans 4 ". 

It is not possible on the available evidence to dogmatise 
about the level of rent in relation to produce at the time of the 
Permanent Settlement. The only certain conclusion would be 
that in Bengal as opposed to Bihar, the raiyats did not pay the 
full nominal pargana rate, if only because they held more land 
than was shown in their pattas; and that if the rents which 
they paid did not approximate to half the value of the produce 
this was the main reason. 

Colebrooke 's Husbandry of Bengal, pages 35 and 36. 

2 Bengal Manuscript Records W. W. Hunter, Volume I, 1782-1793, page 50. 

8 Bengal District Records Rangpur 1770-79, pages 23 and 24. 

*Colebrooke's Husbandry of Bengal, page 67 (foot-note). Considering the prices pre- 
vailing in other provinces, he adopted an average of 12 annas a maund for rice, wheat, 
and barley, in estimating the value of the gross produce (page 15). 



123 

CHARACTERISTICS OF RENT IN BENGAL. 

244. Rents mostly lump-sums. We have referred to the 
fact that Akbar's system of detailed measurement was never 
applied to Bengal, where the unit of assessment was the 
pargana, and the detailed assessment never extended down to 
the holdings of the raiyats 1 . As a general rule the revenue 
demand which the zamindar or farmer had to pay was 
distributed in a more or less arbitrary manner among the 
raiyats in accordance with their ability to pay. Thus the 
Supervisor of Rajshahi who was stationed at Natore wrote in 
1770 to say that in Chuppalyat pargana which ho had visited, 
there had been a decrease in cultivation in the course of three 
years amounting to 12 per cent, of the area, and that as the 
revenue had not been abated, the amount levied upon the 
remaining cultivators must "of consequence have been increased 
in a still greater proportion to make good this deficiency, 
exclusive of the share of increase which this pargana has borne 
in common with the whole Bhettorya district 2 ". Colebrooke 
wrote to the same effect: "The landlord, estimating the 
amount of his own wants distributes it at pleasure on his 
tenants, and endeavours to levy this assessment 3 ." 

The practice of assessing lump rents existed at that time, 
and has tended more and more to become the general rule with 
the passage of time. There are still many estates which have 
different rates for homesteads and cultivated lands, and there 
are some estates which have different rates for different classes 
of cultivated land. Tn some districts higher rates for valuable 
crops like betel-leaf still exist. But broadly speaking, rents 
in Bengal are lump rentals. They are not based on any 
systematic method of assessment, but represent the customary 

1 Even in the provinces where Akbar's system of assessment by measurement was in 
force, the pargana rates beeame obliterated. Tn 1819 all Collectors wore asked to report 
whether there was any pargana rate which could be referred to in a case of dispute between 
the cultivator and the proprietor. 

The Collector of Saidabad said : * 'There is no fixed pargana rate sufficiently acknow- 
ledged and accurate to be referred to in case of dispute between proprietor and cultivator." 

The Collector of Agra said: "The pargana rates are all in kind, and differ in almost 
every pargana. In practice they are much at variance with the rates in force in the villages, 
and are not admitted as authority or reference in dispute between zamindars and culti- 
vators." 

(Auckland Colvin's Memorandum on the revision of Land Revenue Settlements in the 
North -West Provinces, 1872, pages 8.) 

^Letter Copy Book of the Supervisor of Rajshahi, Natore edited by the Revenue 
Record Room 1775-1785. 

'Colebrooke 's Husbandry of Bengal, page 41. 



124 

levels of rent, which are distantly connected with the 
nirikbandi of the Regulations. Where the general rate of 
rent is low, the conclusion would normally be that the low 
customary rate has continued more or less unchanged, and has 
not been much affected by enhancements or by competitive rates. 

245. Competitive rates. The element of competition was 
introduced as the pressure on the land increased, and the 
demand for land became greater. An increase of population 
normally leads to increased rentals, although in Bengal a lower 
level of rent has been maintained on account of the practice of 
taking salami. Specially during the boom period at the end of 
the last war and until 1929, there was a great demand for land, 
and settlements were made at high rates of rent, which the 
tenants had difficulty in paying when the depression began. 

246. Varying incidence of rent. The absence of any 
systematic assessment in Bengal has led to a rate of rent, the 
incidence of which varies considerably from district to district 
and from holding to holding, and has little relation to the 
productivity of the land. The average rate of rent in Hooghly, 
Howrah, and 24-Parganas is considerably higher than the 
average rate of rent paid in many of the more fertile districts 
of eastern Bengal. This is due in part to high rents near urban 
areas and in part to historical reasons. At the time of the 
Permanent Settlement, western Bengal, and Burdwan in 
particular, was more extensively cultivated than the rest of the 
Province, where there were large areas of jungle and waste 
land which the tenants had to be induced by preferential rates 
of rent to bring under cultivation. 



ASSESSMENT IN OTHER PROVINCES. 

i 

247. System in Madras. Tn Madras there are two 
principles that govern all the processes of a settlement. The 
first is that the assessment is on the land and does not depend 
upon the kind of crop grown, except that on "wet" land the 
assessment includes a charge for irrigation. The Settlement 
Officer's first duty is to classify various kinds of soil with 
reference to their productive capacity. For this purpose, the' 
soils are first divided into main classifications, such as the blaeV 
cotton growing soil, and the red soil found all over the 
Presidency These classes are then subdivided according to the 
amount of clay or sand which they contain and experiments are 
carried out over a fixed area of each class of soil to determine 



125 

its productive capacity. In the earlier settlements these 
experiments were most elaborate. As many as 2,000 plots were 
sown with paddy on "wet" land and the outturn on each plot 
was measured. As many as 60 classifications of land were 
adopted in some cases. As a result of these experiments, the 
Settlement Officer was in a position to calculate with fair 
accuracy the normal yield to be expected from an acre of each 
kind of soil. These figures expressed in Madras measures of 
120 tolas are called the grain outturns. They are converted into 
money values, not at the current rates prevailing at the time, 
which might be abnormal, but at the average of the prices 
prevailing during the 20 years, excluding famine years, 
immediately preceding the settlement. 

The second principle governing the assessment -is that 
having obtained figures for the gross produce of each holding 
the net profit of each cultivator has to be estimated. Various 
deductions are made from the gross produce. To cover 
vicissitudes of seasons, and unproductive areas such as 
embankments and channels, a deduction varying from 6J to 25 
per cent, is made; a deduction varying from 10 to 20 per 
cent, is made to cover the cost of cartage to the nearest 
market, and the difference between the local selling price and 
the retail price; and a deduction is made for cultivation costs, 
which include the seed, depreciation of cattle and agricultural 
implements, and the cost of manure and labour. When these 
deductions have been made, and the net profit has been 
obtained, the Settlement Officer is in a position to fix the 
assessment on any holding. Of the net profit, 50 per cent, is 
claimed as the maximum Government share; but in practice it 
is often less, as the maximum only applies to lands which enjoy 
the greatest natural advantages, 

248. Resettlements. Eesettlements are carried out at 
intervals of 30 years and a fresh calculation is made of 
Government's share of the net profit. If a tenant has sunk a 
well or constructed a tank for irrigation, Government claims no 
share of the increased profits. But where other improvements 
have been made a share is claimed, for instance if marketing 
facilities in a backward area have been improved by the 
construction of a railway. Enquiries are made whether the 
previous assessment has worked well and is reasonable. In 
considering this point great importance is attributed to the 
sale value and lease value of land. If the previous assessment 
is found to have worked satisfactorily, no change is made in 
basic principles, but if there has been a rise in prices, an 
increase is made in the Government's demand. The calculation 



126 

is again made over a period of the 20 non-famine years 
preceding the resettlement. In practice the full enhancement 
has not always been taken, as it might have amounted in some 
cases to as much as double the previous demand. In 1924, 
Government decided to limit the enhancement on this ground to 
18| per cent. 

249. Comments on the Madras system. The Madras 
system is based on scientific principles and claims a half share 
of the economic rent. It cannot be said to be unfair, although 
in the raiyatwari area it results in a rate of rent for paddy- 
growing land amounting to between Rs. 7 and Rs. 8 per acre, 
which is quite double the average rent of occupancy raiyats in 
Bengal. We doubt whether the elaborate classifications of the 
soil aimed at, can be worked out successfully by a settlement 
staff which can have little technical knowledge of soil 
properties. In any case the system of classification is not really 
understood by the tenants. It is obviously necessary to have 
different rates for land in the deltas, which are much above the 
average fertility, and for dry land as compared with irrigated 
land. But otherwise all-round rates of rent might not have 
been actually more unfair. 

250. System in the Punjab. The Punjab system of 
assessment aims at fixing a moderate revenue to be paid by 
each village as a whole. All the peasant proprietors are jointly 
liable for the revenue of their village, tip till 1928 the 
maximum revenue that could be assessed was half of the net 
assets. In that year Government's claim was reduced to one- 
fourth of the net assets, though the former rate is still in force 
in districts where resettlement operations have not been taken 
up. By net assets is meant the average surplus which the 
estate is expected to yield after deduction of the expenses of 
cultivation; and the expenses of cultivation are assumed to be 
half the gross produce, which is the amount generally paid to 
the peasant proprietors by their tenants -at- will. No detailed 
calculations are made to estimate the detailed cost of the 
various stages of cultivation. 

Resettlements of revenue were formerly made at intervals of 
20 years, but recently legislation has fixed the period at 40 
years. In the opinion of some of the Revenue Officers whom 
the Commission met, this is too long a period. 

251. Procedure for determining net assets. The procedure 
is elaborate. The various classes of land within the assessment 
circle to be taken up for settlement are first of all determined, 
and then an estimate is prepared of what is called the matured 



127 

area of each class. This means the area sown, excluding the 
area on which crops have failed. In order to determine this 
area the acreage under different crops is examined for different 
periods since the last settlement took place, and a period of 5 
or 10 years is selected which is typical of the whole period. 
Crop cutting experiments are then made in order to estimate the 
average yield, and by multiplying the yield and the matured 
area, the gross produce is obtained. This is valued according 
to commutation prices based on the average of a sufficiently 
long number of years, excluding years of famine or scarcity. 
The rates prevailing at the time of settlement have also to be 
taken into account and are determined by reference to official 
price-lists and by making enquiries in markets. When the 
commutation prices have been fixed, the total yield of each 
crop is multiplied by its commutation figure and the cash value 
obtained. This calculation, as has been explained, is based on 
the assumption that the proprietors have sublet to tenants 
paying half the share of the crop which represents the cost of 
cultivation. But before proceeding to calculate the Government 
demand, a cross check is made by calculating what the 
assessment would be on the basis of cash rents actually paid. 
Rents which are obviously too high or too low are excluded, 
and when the average cash rent per acre has been worked out, 
it is applied to the whole matured area, and the total thus 
obtained is compared with the total obtained by the calculation 
on the basis of rent in kind. Generally there is some difference 
between the two figures and the Settlement Officer then proposes 
what figure should be taken as the true assets. Government's 
share has then to be calculated on the net assets. These are 
obtained by deducting first from the gross assets what are 
called the menials' expenses. These are payments, amounting 
to about 10 per cent., which are made after each harvest to 
the blacksmiths, cobblers, and other village artisans who work 
for the village community. From the resulting figure, half is 
deducted as the landlord's share and various adjustments may 
then have to be made in cases where the landholders supply 
part of the seed, or pay part of the water rate, or in cases 
where the tenants pay part of the land revenue. The resulting 
figure represents the landlord's net assets and of these the 
Government is entitled to claim one-fourth. 

> 252. Distribution of revenue over assessment circles. 

When the revenue for each assessment circle has been fixed by 
this method, it is then distributed over the villages. The 
Settlement Officer has discretion to alter the rates if in any area 
a particular crop is inferior or for any other good reasons; but 



123 

the variation must not amount to more than 3 per cent, of the 
total revenue assessed on the circle. 

After Government has approved or modified the proposal, 
the Settlement Officer goes through his notes of the circum- 
stances of each village, and assigns a certain lump 
assessment to each. There may be three villages, of which the 
assessment on the basis of the approved rates for each class of 
land would amount to Rs. 2,000. In the first there is one 
landlord, who realises 30 per cent, of the gross value of the 
crops without any expense to himself. In the second there are 
70 landlords, who do most of the cultivation themselves. 
Though they get the whole crop, their expenses, including 
water rate, are nearly half the value of the crop. Each only 
earns a small net profit on which to support his family. 
Obviously these people are less able to pay one quarter of their 
income as revenue than the sole landlord of the first village. 
A third village has no market near it, where forest produce 
and straw can be sold, or the water-supply is not sufficient to 
provide as much water as is wanted. Under these 
circumstances the Settlement Officer ^may propose that the 
first village will pay Rs. 900, the second Rs. 600 and the third 
Rs. 500. The villagers are then called together. If they 
agree that the whole revenue should be realised from the 
irrigated lands, instead of partly from the unirrigated or 
fallow lands, they can decide that instead of paying the rates in 
the assessment report, they will pay Rs. 2 for each acre of 
irrigated land and nothing for non-irrigated land. Provided 
the resulting assessment will realise the total revenue assigned 
to the village, the Settlement Officer has no objection. These 
rates are then calculated for each holding and entered in the 
jamabandi. Provided the villagers all agree, they can 
distribute the assessment as they think fair. The rates in the 
assessment report are only applied if the villagers cannot reach 
agreement. 

253. Comments on the system. This is a feature of the 
Punjab system which is open to criticism. Once flat rates are 
adopted for a whole village or for particular classes of land, 
the elaborate classifications of land and calculations of yield are 
rendered inoperative. There is also a rule that no new 
assessment must exceed the previous one by more than 25 pec, 
cent. This rule has had the effect, in a recent settlement, of 
reducing the rate for irrigated lands from Rs. 3-15-6 to 
Re. 1-15, and for non-irrigated lands, from Re. 1-11-7 to 
14 annas 6 pies. 



129 

It seems therefore that there is a considerable difference 
3etween the theory and the practice of assessment, and that a 
jreat deal of the elaborate inquiries and calculations is 
wasted. 

254. The sliding scale, One noticeable feature of the 
Punjab system is the automatic adjustment of revenue in 
relation to agricultural prices under the sliding scale which 
was introduced in 1937. Prior to 1937, ad hoc measures were 
adopted to grant remissions on account of low agricultural 
prices. The sliding scale adjusts revenue in relation to the 
prices current in the preceding year. As has been explained, 
the assets are calculated by multiplying the area, the estimated 
yield, and the sanctioned commutation price of each crop. 
This gives an index figure. A corresponding index figure is 
calculated for the year previous to that in which remissions are 
to be given, it being assumed that the percentage of each crop 
and the average yield per acre are constant. The only 
variable factor is the price. The difference between these two 
index figures represents the proportionate amount of remission 
that is granted in a particular year. The sliding scale thus 
operates downwards only. Tf prices rise, Government may 
get the benefit of the rise up to the sanctioned commutation 
figure but even if prices go above that level, Government cannot 
take anything more. 

255. System in the United Provinces. In the United 
Provinces, the revenue in the temporarily settled area was 
formerly revised at intervals of 30 years, but in 1929 the period 
was extended to 40 years. The only exceptions to this rule 
are the alluvial estates, and the areas like Bundlekhand where 
cultivation is precarious. In Bundlekhand the rule is that a 
revision may take place after five years, if the area of established 
cultivation has varied by more than 10 per cent. The 
system of assessment is based upon a proprietor's assets, 
consisting of the rents he receives from his tenants, the produce 
from his khas land, and the siwai income, which corresponds 
to saver income in Bengal, and includes collections from 
fisheries, grazing land and the like. 

The maps are first brought up to date or a resurvey is made 
if many corrections are necessary, and the records corrected 
pnd attested. The Settlement Officer then proceeds to carry 
out a classification of the soil in every village, according to it's 
productive value. There may be four, five, or six classes of 
soil, the productivity of which is estimated in relation to the 
average good land of the village. The Settlement Officer then 

10 



J30 

picks out those holdings which lie entirely within one 
classification of soil, with the object of determining the fair 
average rent paid for that class. He excludes any rents which 
are obviously unfairly high or too low, and examines generally 
the pitch of rents which have been fixed since the last settlement. 
When he has decided what is the fair average rent for each 
class of land he is in a position to commence the actual 
assessment. Prior to 1938 he had no power to reduce rents 
of his own motion. Now rents which are inequitable can be 
reduced, but^ rents which are too low can only be enhanced on 
the application of the landlord, subject to a limit of 25 per 
cent. Kents may therefore be increased or decreased when a 
rcvisional operation takes place, but until the expiry of a 
settlement, the rent of any khas land that may be settled is 
governed entirely by contract. In fixing fair rates for each 
class of land, the Settlement Officer also takes into consideration 
the prevailing level of agricultural pricey and the rise in 
rentals as well as the average level of cash rents. But a rise or 
fall in agricultural prices is not of itself a ground for 
enhancement or reduction. He may commute grain rents into 
cash rents, and many such commutations were made when high 
prices prevailed. In areas where rents are largely paid in 
kind he may determine circle grain rates. When the rates 
have been fixed, the Settlement Officer has to apply as a 
general check the standard of one-fifth of the estimated gross 
produce. Under the present rules the resulting rent should 
not exceed this proportion, though it seems that in practice 
rents are higher than one-fifth in some cases. In calculating 
the assets of proprietors' khas land, a concession ranging from 
15 to 30 per cent, is made for the land which they themselves 
cultivate. The normal deduction on this account is 25 per 
cent. An allowance is also made for improvements effected 
by the proprietors. The siwai income is then added, and t the 
total assets are thus obtained. The Government's share of the 
total assets is normally fixed at 40 per cent. ; but in cases where 
the number of proprietors in a malial is large, or their 
circumstances are poor, a lower percentage, not usually less 
than 30 per cent, may be taken. Enhancements of revenue 
are limited to one-third of the previous demand, except in 
estates where the previous demand if increased by one-third 
would amount to less than 30 per cent, of the assets. 

256. Comments on the system. The system in force in the 
United Provinces resembles the Bengal system for assessing 
revenue in temporarily settled estates. It is based largely on 
the pitch o( contractual rents, but these can be reduced or 



131 

enhanced according to the fair rates which are fixed for different 
classes of land. The chief difference between the system in the 
two provinces lies in the very elaborate inquiries and 
calculations which are made in the United Provinces to classify 
the productivity of the land. 



ASSESSMENT OF RENT IN THEORY. 

257. Economic rent. In the preceding paragraphs we 
have given some account of the methods of assessing revenue, 
which is the same thing as rent in the provinces settled 
raiyatwari. We come now to a consideration of what would 
be, in principle, the soundest method of determining fair and 
equitable rents provided any Government had a free hand. 

We have considered various methods of fixing fair rents. 
According to Ricardo's theory, rent is the difference, or a share 
of the difference, between land which yields a certain profit, 
and land which just repays the cost of cultivation; or in other 
words, the difference between the gross produce and the sum 
which compensates the cultivator for his labour, seed, manure, 
depreciation of cattle and implements and other expenses of 
cultivation. It is thus explained by Henry George : "the rent 
of land is determined by the excess of its produce over that 
which the same application of labour, etc., can secure from the 
least productive land in use". According to this theory, the 
economic rent has to be fixed on the supposition that the 
cultivator is fully employed, i.e., that he has enough land to 
occupy him fully, and the maintenance of the cultivator is the 
first charge on the land, the rent being paid out of the surplus. 

In theory the correct principle would undoubtedly be to fix 
rent as a certain proportion of the economic rent. The 
practical difficulty is to determine what is the economic rent in 
every case. It is impossible to calculate the value of the 
average gross produce and the costs of cultivation in the caoc 
of every holding. The Rent Law Commission decided 1 in 1879 
that the economic theory of rent could not be applied in practice 
because it assumes that no land will be cultivated which will 
not yield the ordinary profit derivable from capital employed 
in other undertakings; whereas in India there is little or no 
capital employed in agriculture. The immediate object of 
cultivation is subsistence, not profit on capital. The 
Commission could only define fair rent by the rather indefinite 

Deport, page 18.. 



132 

description "such a share as shall leave enough to the 
cultivator of the soil to enable him to carry on the cultivation, 
to live in reasonable comfort, and to participate to a reasonable 
extent in the progress and improving prosperity of his native 
land 1 /' 

In practice the theory of economic rent can only be applied 
by taking averages of the yield of different classes of land, and 
applying them to all tenancies. In the same way the cost of 
cultivation, and any other deductions that are to be made, can 
only be calculated approximately and applied generally. But 
apart from the difficulty of estimating the produce and the costs 
of cultivation, a strict application of the economic theory would 
involve maxima and minima rates differing so widely, that they 
would cause a revolution in all Indian ideas of rent. If land 
producing Rs. 20 an acre just repays the cost of cultivation, 
land producing Es. 100 an acre would be liable to pay Rs. 40, 
if half the net profit were taken as the rent. Every Government 
which has adopted this principle has been forced to modify it 
in practice to such an extent that the relation of the existing 
revenue or rent to the surplus profit derived from cultivating 
the best land, is no nearer the economic rent than the existing 
rents in Bengal are to a definite share of the produce. In 
Madras and Burma a modified form of economic theory has 
been adopted, by taking half the profit of the cultivator, after 
deducting all the expenses of cultivation, including the food 
of the cultivator and his family. 

258. Rent as a share of the crop. Rent as a share of the 
crop was the system of assessment throughout the Hindu and 
Moghul periods, but as we have shown, the cash rents which 
were generally paid in Bengal at the time of the Permanent 
Settlement bore no relation to a share of the crop based upon 
measurement. This method has a certain historical sanction, 
but it depends entirely on the share fixed whether the resulting 
rent is fair or not. It is impossible to state categorically what 
is a fair share of the produce, or to fix a share which would be 
equitable in every case. There is no logical reason why it 
should be fair for a bargadar to pay half of the crop, for an 
under-raiyat to pay a maximum of one-third, and for an 
occupancy raiyat to pay one-fifth, or any other proportion. In 
the evidence we have received, varying estimates have been given 
of what might be considered a fair share. They range from 
one-fourth to one-tenth of the produce. Most of our witnesses 

1 Report, page 24. 



133 

recommended either one-fifth or one-sixth, but were not in 
favour of a share of the produce as a method of assessment. 
The commutation rules, which were abolished in 1928, laid 
down that the produce rent of an occupancy raiyat when 
converted into a cash rent could not exceed one-fifth of the value 
of the produce. This is the proportion that is most generally 
accepted in theory. It was contained in the Tenancy Bill of 
1885, but was omitted from the Act. 

The advantage of the system, provided the rent is paid in 
produce, is that it automatically counter-balances the changes 
in prices; but if it is paid in cash, it has a counter effect. It 
cannot work with absolute equity because the cultivator of 
poor land may not be able to live on half the produce of 5 acres, 
while in another part of the same village, half the produce of 
3 acres may yield a substantial surplus. In theory all rents 
should have some relation to the value of the gross produce, 
but we think that in practice the chief utility of this system is 
that it affords a standard for judging the level of rents, as is 
ithe practice in the United Provinces. As a"method of assessing 
rents it is without any scientific basis. 

259. Rent fixed on market values. Another method of 
fixing rent is in relation to the market value of the land. 
Though this principle has not been adopted as a sole criterion 
of fair rent in any province, considerable importance is attached 
to it in Madras and Bombay. We do not think that it is a 
sound principle in assessing the fair rent of agricultural land. 
In practice it would lead to difficulties. The market value of 
land fluctuates greatly, and fluctuating rent would be equally 
troublesome to landlord and tenant. There would also be 
difficulty in making a valuation of land with any exactness, 
because for a variety of reasons, specially high or low prices 



260. Competitive rates. Competitive rates are an indica- 
tion of the highest rent that a cultivator is prepared to offer 
for land in a particular locality. They are much the same as 
the economic rent, if economic forces had full play. Accord- 
ing to the present law, there is no means of preventing 
landlords from demanding the highest rent at new settlements 
which the tenants are prepared to pay. Even if legislation 
restricted the amount of rent for new settlements, it would be 
difficult in practice to prevent landlords from defeating it by 
taking a premium. On the other hand it is true that when 
agricultural prices are high, competition tends to result in 
unduly high rents. Whenever there is a sudden demand for 



134 

land, the possibility of a fall in prices is overlooked and there 
is a tendency to overbid. It is undesirable that the rivalry 
among tenants to get settlement of additional land should lead 
them into making offers which in normal times would be 
extravagant. It has always been the aim of tenancy legislation 
to restrict the settlement of land at rates fixed by competition, 
and any chdnge in this policy would be against the sentiments 
and interests of the tenants. 

ASSESSMENT OF RENT IN BENGAL. 

261. Customary rates. Customary rates are, as we have 
mentioned, the general rule in Bengal, arid custom 
is still the main factor in the level of rent. As we have 
shown, there are objections to all the systems of assessing rent 
to which we have referred. In no province which has adopted 
other principles of assessment, are those principles followed to 
their logical conclusion. In all, drastic modifications and 
lump reductions have been made, which to a large extent render 
inoperative the elaborate inquiries which were involved. It 
therefore seems that there is much to be said for the principle 
of tenancy legislation in this Province, which is to accept the 
existing rents as fair and equitable until the contrary is 
proved. It has been mentioned that most of the existing rents 
in Bengal are lump rents, having no uniform relation to either 
the gross produce or to the net profits. Nevertheless, they have 
some connection, however remote, with the customary village 
rates which were at some period based on a classification' of the 
soil and the nature and amount of the produce they could be 
expected to grow. Now that settlement operations have been 
completed in every district, every landlord and every tenant 
has had an opportunity either to claim enhancements or reduc- 
tions. From that point of view the existing rents must be 
accepted as being, on the whole, reasonably fair. 

Although we think that a share of the economic rent is 
theoretically the best system of assessment, it would not be in 
Consonance with the system that has always prevailed in 
Bengal. It is doubtful whether the elaborate investigations 
which it involves would justify its introduction, or whether any 
settlement staff could be found with sufficient agricultural and 
technical knowledge to make an assessment on its principles 
that would be more equitable than customary rates. 

262. Difficulty of finding a standard of assessment. We 

agree however that if Government became the sole landlord in 
Bengal, equality in the incidence of taxation would become an 



135 

important consideration; but, as we have pointed out, the 
incidence of rent in Bengal varies widely and has no relation, 
or only a very remote relation to the productivity of the soil. 

This variety in the incidence of rent is due to historical and 
other causes. Western Bengal was in a far more advanced 
state of cultivation at the time of the Permanent, Settlement 
than eastern Bengal. In some districts the population has 
always been denser than in others; in some the fallow land 
available for the increasing population has been greater than in 
others. In some estates the landlords have been successful in 
making enhancements : in others the tenants have been 
successful in resisting them. The Rent Law Commission 
observed in 1879 1 : "the progress of nearly a century has 
created relations of persons and conditions of things, to sweep 
away which for the purpose of establishing an ideal normal 
standard would involve an interference with vested interests 
and a disturbance of existing associations, which would irritate 
the feelings of those concerned, and render the remedy worse 
than the disease." No Committee or Commission which has 
deliberated the question in the past has been able to devise any 
practicable principle that would give satisfactory results under 
all circumstances. We are agreed that it would be impossible 
in Bengal to graft a new method of assessment on to the 
Province without regard to its historical development, or to the 
laws which have governed rent since 1859. Our suggestion 
therefore is that with certain modifications, the provisions in 
our Tenancy Act for fixing fair and equitable rents should 
remain in force, whether 'the Government becomes the sole 
landlord or not. 



THE EXISTING LAW FOR FIXING RENTS. 



263. Revisional settlements. Revisional settlements are 
normally carried out in khas mahals and temporarily settled 
estates at intervals of 15 years. The exceptions are Sundarban 
Lots which are held under 99 or 40-year leases, and small estates 
which it may not be worth while to re-assess when their term of 
settlement expires, because the increase in revenue would be 
insufficient to cover the cost of the revisional operations. The 
main objects of revisional settlements have been to obtain an 
increase of revenue and to bring the record-of -rights up to date. 
The prospect of obtaining an increase in revenue has been a 

1 Report, paragraph 47. 



136 

consideration, in view of the cost of revisional operations. 
We are strongly of opinion however that an increase of revepue 
should not be the chief consideration. We think that the 
advantage of having an up-to-date record-of-rights, and of 
collecting much valuable information during these operations 
is sufficient to recommend them. In the view of the 
majority, flistrict revisional operations are no less desirable 
than resettlements in khas mahal and temporarily settled 
estates, and their cost should be defrayed by Government. 
Some of our members, however, are of opinion that the cost 
should be recovered solely from the landlords. 

264. Defects in policy and procedure. The chief criticism 
which has been made by most of our witnesses is that it was a 
mistaken policy to continue enhancing rents after 1930 when 
the slump began. We all agree that this criticism contains 
much force. At the same time it is a fact that the enhance- 
ments taken after 1930 have fallen short of the amount which 
might legally have been taken by the strict application of 
section 32 of the Tenancy Act. 

Another defect in the assessment of fair rents in temporarily 
settled estates has been the interpretation of the provision that 
existing rents must be presumed to be fair and equitable. In 
the past Settlement Officers have held the view that high 
contractual rents, which might have been perfectly legal, could 
not be reduced except on the specific grounds contained in 
section 38 of the Tenancy Act. The practice of maintaining 
contractual rents which are considered to be unfair has now 
been abandoned, and it has been held that Settlement Officers 
have a free hand in reducing such rents. We consider that 
this is the correct interpretation of the law, and that contractual 
rents which are clearly inequitable should be reduced. 
Although the assets are reduced, the revenue of the proprietor 
or the rent of the tenure-holder is also reduced, and the ratio 
of revenue to rent remains the same. We think that the law 
should make it perfectly clear that high contractual rents can 
be reduced. 

265. The prevailing rate. We shall now proceed to 
consider the various grounds on which rent may be enhanced or 
reduced, the criticisms of them that have been made, and the 
suggestions that have been offered for their improvement. 

The prevailing rate was originally the pargana rate and 
the idea of enhancement on that ground came from section 7 
of Regulation IV of 1794. When Regulation V of 1812 was 
passed it was stated that the pargana rates had become very 



137 

uncertain, and a provision was made that if the pargana rate 
could not be ascertained by the purchaser of an estate, or by a 
Government Officer who attached an estate, the rents should 
be collected at the rate payable for land of a similar description 
in places adjacent 1 . Subsequently it was incorporated as a 
ground of enhancement in Act X of 1859, which provided that 
rents substantially below the prevailing rate couldtbe levelled 
up to it. There was no provision in Act X of 1859 for a 
reduction of rent on this ground, but Act XIV of 1863 
introduced this ground of reduction, taking it from the 
North- West Provinces Act, against the opinion of the Sadar 
Board of Revenue 2 . Act XIV was repealed in 1865. It was 
held that contractual r'ents which were in excess of the 
prevailing rate were perfectly legal, and the mere fact that 
they were higher than the prevailing rate could not in itself 
be a reason for reducing them 3 . In the Great Rent Case it 
was held that the omission in Act X of 1859 to provide for 
reductions on this ground could hardly have been a mere 
accident 4 . When the Tenancy Act of 1885 was under 
discussion, the question of retaining or rejecting it as a ground 
of enhancement was carefully examined. The Government 
were in favour of rejecting it, but the Select Committee 
ultimately proposed its retention. At that time there was no 
clear distinction between the prevailing rate and the average 
rate, so that the effect of allowing enhancements on this ground 
might have been a continuous increase in the average rate of 
rent. The illustrations in section 31A of the Tenancy Act 
were added in 1898 in order to obviate any confusion between 
the prevailing rate and the average rate of rent. It was also 
laid down that once rents had been enhanced up to the 
prevailing rate, they could only be enhanced again on the ground 
of a rise in prices. The object of these amendments was to 
prevent a continuous rise of the average rent. At the time 
the. Tenancy Act of 1885 was under discussion, the prevailing 
rate had commonly been used as a ground of enhancement; but 
after the amendments of 1898 the difficulty of ascertaining 
rates for different classes of land with similar advantages, when 
most rents were paid in lump, discouraged landlords from 
claiming enhancements on this ground, and the section is now 
hardly ever used. 

We think however that if the Government were in the 
position of sole landlord it would be desirable to retain the 

Section 7 Regulation V of 1812. 

2 Papers relating to the working and amendment of Act X of 1859, Volume II, page 131. 

8 Ibid, page 122. 

*Wekly Reporter, Volume III Act X. page 68. 



138 

prevailing rate, as defined in section 31A of the Tenancy Act. 
It is a fair ground for enhancing rents which have been fixed 
at unduly low rates for some special consideration. 

We also consider that, within certain limits, it is a 
reasonable ground of reduction. It could be used to deal with 
isolated cases of excessive rents either by the Civil Courts, or 
by Revenufe Officers in the course of revisional operations. In 
areas where all, or the majority of rents, are particularly high 
for various reasons, this ground of reduction could not be 
used. For such areas we think that the Government should 
issue a notification under section 112 of the Tenancy Act, and 
undertake revisional operations, as has been done in part of 
Mymensingh district. 

We recommend that a new sub-clause should be added to 
section 38 of the Tenancy Act, in order to allow reductions of 
rent on the ground that the existing rate of rent is substantially 
higher than the prevailing rate. In deciding whether an 
existing rent is substantially higher than the prevailing rate, a 
Revenue Officer should follow the procedure laid down in 
section 31A, but should not reduce any rent which he estimates 
to represent less than one-eighth of the normal gross produce 
of the holding as a whole. 

266. Enhancements for a rise of prices. The ground of 
enhancement that has been most generally used in khas mahal 
and temporarily settled estates is a rise in the price of staple 
food crops. Owing to the more or less continuous rise in prices 
until 1929 this was the most convenient section. It applies 
only to staple food crops, i.e., to rice, and the effect of the 
enhancement is to level up rent in relation to the higher prices 
obtaining over the previous 10 years, so that in terms of produce 
the rent remains the same. The method of assessing the new 
rtent is to compare the average price of rice during the decennial 
period preceding the current settlement, with that of the 
decennial period preceding the previous settlement. Two- 
thirds of the difference between the two sets of prices is the 
maximum up to which rents can be enhanced. 

267. Defects of this ground of enhancement. Although 
practically all our witnesses are agreed that this ground of 
enhancement is fair and should be retained, some of them 
pointed out that the procedure of comparing two decennial 
periods is too rigid and may operate harshly on the tenants. 
When Settlement operations were in progress a few years after 
the slump began, it was found that by comparing prices over 
decennial periods, an enhancement of 8 annas in the rupe'e 
could be obtained in some khas mahal estates. The high prices 



139 

current up to 1929 still predominated, and the low prices from 
1930 onwards had not begun to operate fully. Had 
quinquennial periods been adopted instead of decennial periods, 
the enhancement legally obtainable would have been much 
smaller, and had triennial periods been adopted, there might 
have been no enhancement at all. We think that when there 
is a marked fall in the price of agricultural produce it is 
desirable to compare prices over a shorter period than, 10 
years. A landlord is in a position to wait for an enhancement 
of rent, but when there is a sharp fall in prices, the tenants 
cannot afford to wait for a reduction. It has been proposed 
to remedy this defect by adding the words "or equitable" after 
the word "practicable" in section 32(c) of the Tenancy Act, 
in order to leave it to the discretion of the Court to decide 
what period should be taken in comparing price levels. We 
recommend that this proposal should be adopted. 

Another defect in the law of enhancement on the ground 
of rise in prices, is that it emphasises the discrepancy in the 
levels of rent. For instance, one raiyat pays Rs. 15 for 5 
acres: another pays Rs. 30 for a similar area. Both receive 
the same benefit from a rise in prices, but the rent of the first, 
if enhanced by 2 annas in the rupee, is only increased by 
Re. 1-14, while the rent of the second is increased by Rs. 3-12. 
We think that the Courts in making enhancements under this 
section have not paid sufficient attention to the provisions of 
section 35 of the Tenancy Act. 

268. Applicability to uneconomic holdings. We have 
also considered whether it would be possible to grant any relief 
from enhancement under this section to tenants who have 
uneconomic holdings. If a raiyat requires the whole crop for 
home consumption, he can derive no benefit from a rise in 
prices. Theoretically this is correct, though it is doubtful 
whether there are many tenants who do not sell some portion 
of the crop, however small. It is certain that any attempt to 
exclude uneconomic holdings from the operation of this section 
would give rise to endless practical difficulties. There would 
be innumerable claims for exemption which could only be 
decided after holding local enquiries into the productivity of 
each holding and the family budget of each tenant. The 
subdivision of holdings would be encouraged, and there would 
be many cases for which it would be impossible to legislate. 
For instance, a cultivator with ten dependants holds an area 
of 5 acres, which is barely sufficient for their maintenance. 
He transfers it to a cultivator who has only three dependants. 
The holding then becomes economic. If the position were 
reversed, an economic holding would become uneconomic. In 



140 

fact every transfer might involve local enquiry into the 
economic position of the transferee. We think it 'undesirable 
to suggest the exclusion of uneconomic holdings from the 
operation of section 30(6) of the Tenancy Act. The provision 
of section 35 is sufficiently wide to allow consideration of special 

circumstances in particular cases. 



269. Reductions for fall in prices. Reductions of rent on 
the ground of a fall in prices can be made in khas mahal 
estates at any time, and in temporarily settled estates the itents 
could be revised with the agreement of the proprietors before 
the expiry of the period of settlement. In the course of recent 
revisional operations reductions of rent have been granted, the 
low prices current during the last 10 years having begun to 
operate fully. In permanently settled estates the only way 
of obtaining reductions on this ground is for the tenants to 
sue in the Civil Court under section 38 of the Tenancy Act. 
Owing to the delay and expense of Civil Court procedure, the 
tenants as a whole have made no use of this provision, although 
they may in some cases be legally entitled to a reduction. 
Probably the percentage of cases in which reduction would be 
allowable is not very large. The general level of prices during 
the last 10 years is not substantially different from the level 
of prices prevailing before the last war. It is mainly the rents 
which were fixed during the boom period between the end of 
the last war and 1929 that would be affected. We consider 
however that it is only reasonable to provide facilities for 
reductions to which the tenants may be legally entitled. We 
recommend that such reductions should be made through the 
agency of Revenue Officers. Section 38 of the Tenancy Act 
would have to be amended to empower them to deal with such 
cases in areas to be notified by Government. 

270. Fluvial action. Fluvial action is the result of natural 
causes which affect landlord and tenant equally. When a 
holding is wholly or partly diluviated, there is no difficulty, 
because a reduction of rent can be obtained under the existing 
law. The question of enhancement under section 30 (rf) or 
reduction under section 38 of the Tenancy Act becomes 
contentious^when the fertility of the soil is 'increased by a 
deposit of silt, or decreased by a deposit of sand. Some of our 
witnesses held the view that as the landlord is not instrumental 
in improving the fertility of the soil, there is no reason why he 
should be entitled to an increase of rent. This view is in 
contradiction to the Hindu and Muslim theory of rent as a 
share of the produce. Even in Akbar's time provision was 
made for a lighter assessment on lands that were unfertile, or 



141 

liable to inundation. But if they regained their fertility again 
they were liable to pay the full assessment. 

The practical aspect of the question is that owing to the 
deposit of sand or silt, the productivity of good land may be 

freatly impaired, and that of poor land greatly improved, 
n the former case it is only reasonable that rent should be 
reduced as early as possible; but if a reduction is allowed on 
this ground, there must logically be an enhancement if the 
productivity has increased. The real point is that a deposit 
of sand or silt results in a change in the classification of the 
land. The question is not therefore so much one of enhancing 
or reducing rent, but of readjusting it under altered 
circumstances. This is the practice which is now being 
followed in khas mahals and temporarily settled estates, and 
it should be allowed to continue. 

271. Enhancements for improvements, and by contract. 

Enhancements may also be made under section 30(0) on the 
ground that an improvement is effected at the expense of the 
landlord In theory it is only reasonable that enhancements 
should be allowed on this ground, but in practice the landlords 
have effected few improvements, and have made little use of the 
section, chiefly because the expense of Civil Court procedure 
may not make it worth while to sue for enhancements which 
may turn out to be negligible. The principle of this section 
has however been adopted in the Bengal Development Act 
which provides that half of the estimated increase in the yield 
resulting from an improvement can be recovered by 
Government. 

The only remaining ground of enhancement is contained in 
section 29, which applies to permanently settled estates, and 
provides for enhancement by contract provided that it is 
registered and the enhancement does not amount to more than 
2 annas in the rupee. In the event of the State becoming the 
sole landlord, as the majority have recommended, this section 
as well as section 30 (c), would automatically disappear. 

OTHER DEFECTS AND SUGGESTIONS. 

272. Payment of rent in cash or kind. Having discussed 
the sections of the Tenancy Act which are concerned with 

enhancements and reductions of rent, we shall now refer to 
other defects and other suggestions for improving the present 
procedure. 

It has been suggested to us that it would be of benefit to 
the tenants, particularly when prices are low, if they are given 



140 

the option of paying their rent in cash or in kind. Some of our 
witnesses considered this a reasonable suggestion, but most of 
them thought that it would be a retrograde step, and one to 
which there are many practical objections. The landlords 
would find it difficult to collect produce rents, and would have 
to establish numerous centres on their estates for storing the 
crops. The commutation of cash rents into produce rents 
would also be extremely difficult. The price of agricultural 
produce varies from year to year, and from place to place, and 
would be a continual source of dispute between landlord and 
tenant. Government would have to issue annual commutation 
rates for each crop. If prices rose, most tenants would prefer 
to pay cash rents, and the produce rents would then have to be 
reconverted. The process of commutation might provide an 
opportunity for enhancement, because the High Court has 
held that the conversion of a cash rent into a produce rent 
which exceeds the value of the cash rent at current prices by 
more than 2 annas in the rupee does not amount to an 
infringement of section 29 of the Tenancy Act. The majority 
of our members consider that the practical difficulties are too 
great, and are not in favour of this suggestion. 

273. Rent in urban areas. The question of assessing fail- 
rents for tenancies, the value of which has greatly increased 
on account of urban development, is one which has created 
great difficulty in the past. The Civil Court has held that once 
a tenancy is determined to be a raiyati holding it must always 
remain so, and the consequence has been that areas covered 
by factories, mills and houses retain their raiyati status. It 
was to avoid this decision that the Non-Agricultural Lands 
Assessment Act was passed in 1936. The Act may prove to 
be workable in khas mahal and temporarily settled estates 
which are managed by Government, because the Collector is 
empowered to realise the fair rent by certificate; or if the 
tenant has sublet, the Collector may demand the same^ rent 
from the under-tenant, should the tenant refuse to pay. But 
it is difficult to see how the Act can work elsewhere. Although 
fair rents can be assessed by a Revenue Officer, the proprietor 
of a temporarily settled estate has no means to compel his 
tenants to pay them, because the Act distinctly lays down that 
the rents so fixed are not binding between the proprietor and 
his tenants. 

274. Appellate authority under section 104G. Though 
the great majority of our witnesses have found little fault with 
the existing procedure under Chapter X of the Tenancy Act, 
it has been suggested that no distinction should be made 
between the appellate authority in cases under section 104 and 



143 

in cases under section 105. Under the existing law, appeals 
from assessments in khas mahal and temporarily settled 
estates go to the Director of Land Records and to the Board 
of Revenue, and appeals against decisions of Revenue Officers 
under section 105, which concerns permanently settled estates, 
go to a Special Judge. Some of our members do not see 
sufficient justification for transferring the appellate powers of 
the Director of Land Records and the Board of Revenue to a 
Special Judge. They consider that the two classes of appeals 
stand on a different footing, because appeals from khas mahal 
and temporarily settled estates involve the amount of revenue/ 
paid to Government : the other class of appeal does not. 
Others of our members think that in view of the apprehension 
in the minds of appellants that the Revenue authorities may 
be influenced by a desire to obtain increases of revenue, the 
appeals of both classes should be heard by a Special Judge. 

275. Period of settlement. Under the existing practice, 
resettlements in Bengal are supposed to be carried out at 
intervals of 15 years. Some of our, witnesses suggested that 
this is rather too short a period. In Madras the practice is 
to make resettlements at intervals of 30 years. In the Punjab, 
the interval was previously 20 years, 'but has recently been 
extended to 40 years, and in the United Provinces the interval 
was 30 years, and has also been extended to 40 years. A lon 
interval tends to induce a greater feeling of security, and 
enables the temporarily settled proprietors to enjoy the 
advantages of any improvements or developments, ami the 
benefit of a rise in prices for a longer period before the State 
steps in and takes a share of their increased profits. On the 
other hand, great fluctuations in prices may occur during a 
long period of settlement. The State may lose its share of 
the increment resulting from a steady rise in prices or from 
urban, development 1 . It may also become necessary to grant 
large remissions if there is a marked fall in prices. This has 
happened in Madras, where a lump remission of 75 lakhs was 
made in 1937, and in the United Provinces where remissions 
have brought down the incidence of revenue from 2-1 to 1-7 
rupees per acre. 

Considering the views of the revenue experts in the provinces* 
we have visited, we think that 40 years is too long an interval. 
The majority of our members are in favour of fixing thfc 
interval at 30 years: others are in favour of 20 or 25 years. 

*One feature of the system in the Punjab and United Provinces which appeared to us* 
unusual, is that agricultural land which is built over with houses or factories is altogether 
excluded from assessment to land revenue. 



144 

RENTS IN PERMANENTLY SETTLED ESTATES. 

276. Periodic revisions not recommended. Although 
theoretically there would be no objection to the fixing of fair 
rents at intervals in permanently settled estates, we do not 
think that such a policy can be recommended. If Government 
acquires aU the superior interests above the actual cultivators 
it would be essential, as we have pointed out, to have a system 
of assessment that would equalise the incidence of taxation; 
but if the reduction of inequitably high contractual rents is 
carried out through the agency of Revenue Officers, we do not 
think that any further interference would be justified so long 
as the present land revenue system remains, it is not unlikely 
that the fixing of fair rents would lead in many cases to 
enhancements, which would go entirely to the proprietors and 
.tenure-holders and not to the Government. In the view of the 
majority, there could be no justification for such enhancements 
injthe present situation : they could only be justified if the State 
were the sole landlord, and returned the benefit of those 
enhancements in the shape of improved social services. 

Apart from the grounds in section 38 of the Tenancy Act, 
the only grounds on which contractual rents can be reduced 
under the existing law are contained in section 112 of the 
Tenancy Act. If the Government considers that it is necessary 
to intervene in the interests of public order, or for the welfare 
of the tenants in any locality, it may, under this section, order 
fair rents to be fixed, and the rents may be reduced on any 
ground* whether specified in the Tenancy Act or not. The 
scope of this section is wide, and is sufficient to protect the 
interests of the tenants against the levy of inequitable rents 
on a wide scale, or of rents in excess of those entered in the 
record-of -rights. It could not however be made applicable to 
isolated cases of high contractual rents. It is for this reason 
that we have recommended reduction of such rents on* the 
ground that they are substantially above the prevailing rate. 

277. Fixing of rents in perpetuity. We have expressed 
the view that if the State becomes the landlord, it would be a 
mistake to fix rents in perpetuity, thereby following the same 
policy for which Lord Cornwallis has been criticised, It 
cannot be assumed that the financial requirements of the State 
will be satisfied for ever with a fixed income from land revenue: 
nor would it be possible to maintain fixed rents in cash, once 
it is accepted that the level of rent ought to be readjusted from 
time to time in relation to the rise or fall of prices. It could 
not be contended that if there is a marked fall in prices, not of 
a temporary nature, the tenants should not get the benefit of 



145 

reductions. Of the provinces which we have visited, the only 
one which does not readjust the level of rent to the level of 
prices is the United Provinces. There, the rise or fall in the 
price of agricultural produce is not a ground for enhancement 
or reduction of rent, but at the time of resettlement the 
Settlement Officer takes into consideration the prevailing level 
of agricultural prices. This may be a defect in thfe system of 
assessment. We certainly think that the rise or fall in prices 
must be taken into account in adjusting the level of rent, and 
if that is done the level of cash rents cannot remain fixed, 
although the rent in terms of producte remains unaltered. 



11 



CHAPTER VII. 

Agricultural Credit. 

278. General observations. The seventh term of reference 
invites us to consider how the credit facilities of the agricul- 
turists can be improved. It seems to be universally held that 
cultivators must be able to borrow money for sowing seeds or 
purchasing cattle at the harvest time, or even for maintaining 
themselves until the next harvest is reaped. We agree that 
facilities for short term credit are necessary, though we think 
that lands capable of cultivation rarely remain fallow in a 
normal season for the want of it. At the present time, the 
economic depression, the operations of Debt Settlement Boards, 
and the introduction of the Money-lenders Bill have compelled 
the cultivators to manage without credit. One consequence 
has been a marked increase in the number of sales, and a 
corresponding decrease in the number of mortgages, indicating 
that the cultivators are being forced to part permanently with 
land, in order to raise the amounts they require. 

Jri discussing the effects on the agriculturists of the 
provisions for free transfer, we have suggested that facilities 
for selling their land tend to encourage them to indulge in 
reckless expenditure and borrowing. We do not altogether 
agree with the view of the Bengal Provincial Banking 
Committee 1 that all occupancy holdings should be freely 
transferable simply in order to provide further credit, and we 
certainly do not agree that the protection given by Chapter 
VII A of the Tenancy Act to aboriginal tribes should be 
withdrawn. A comparison of the number of registered 
mortgages with the index figures of prices over a period of 
years indicates that debt increases as prices rise 2 . At the end 
of the boom period when jute was selling at high prices, the 
tenants in the chief jute-growing districts were more heavily 
indebted than at the beginning of the boom. Their difficulties 
have been due to the fact that agricultural prices have fallen 
by half during the slump, and that all loans have to be repaid 
by the sale of double the amount of produce that was necessary 
when they were incurred. The same thing happened in the 

J Report, paragraph 306. 
2 lbid, paragraph 83. 



147 

Punjab when cotton and wheat were selling at high prices. 
Indeed it is common knowledge that the more land a man has 
and the larger his resources, the more he borrows. 

Assuming however that cultivators must be in a position 
to take short term loans, and that they cannot do so to a 
sufficient extent on personal security, the question ia how their 
credit can be improved. In the case of the lowest grades of 
cultivators, an obvious answer is to give them better rights in 
land, because a money-lender will not regard a tenant-at-will 
as a safe client. On the other hand, it has to be considered 
that if the right to sell or mortgage were conferred on them it 
might only encourage them to borrow. 

The course that would be in the best interests of the 
cultivators would be to restrict the security for loans to the 
crop, instead of to the land. This is the practice in the United 
Provinces, where no holdings, except those of mokarari raiyats 
in the permanently settled area, are transferable. In theory 
we are in favour of this restriction; but as we have described 
in paragraphs 151 and 312, there are great difficulties in 
preventing transfers to non-agriculturists, and there are 
objections to the restoration of distraint. 

279. Co-parcenary among landlords In the case of 
raiyats who have occupancy rights with power to sell or to 
mortgage up to 15 years, the seventh term of reference suggests 
that the value of their holdings would provide better security 
for loans if there were not so many co-sharers among the 
landlords and so many partners among the tenants. We admit 
that co-parcenary to the extent it prevails in Bengal in all 
grades of tenancy is a serious evil. Though the tenants do not 
seriously object to co-parcenary among landlords, and in fact 
sometimes escape payment of 'part of their dues because the 
share^ of some landlords is so small that it hardly pays them 
to realise it, still it must be inconvenient to pay rent every year 
to ten different landlords, or different groups of landlords. ' On 
each occasion they may have to pay something in addition to 
the rent to landlord's agents, and if they want to deposit their 
rent or send it by money-order, the extra expense is no less an 
obstacle. Similar difficulties arise in transactions other than 
the payment of rent, such as suits for arrears or enhancement 
of rent, applications for registration of transfers, applications 
for mutation, and partition suits. At some stage or other 
notices have to be served on a multitude of co-sharer defendants 
or plaintiffs, and the original object of the Tenancy Act as 
embodied in section 188 that co-sharer landlords must always 
act jointly; has been entirely ignored by the Courts. The law 



148 

was considerably modified in 1928 in order to bring it into 
closer conformity with existing practice. Sir John Kerr's 
Committee however proposed that as a quid pro quo common 
agents should be appointed in all estates, tenures and groups of 
tenures having a common share over raiyati tenancies, with 
powers to collect rent and issue rent receipts and to accept 
notices of transfers. The legislature refused to make the 
appointment of such common agents compulsory, with the result 
that the number in Bengal today is less than 50. 

280. Recommendation. We are in favour of restoring the 
provision of Sir John Kerr's Committee. We cannot accept 
the position that the co-sharers within an estate or tenure are 
always so distrustful of each other that they cannot nominate 
one or other of their number to act as common agent ; or even if 
this were the case, that a lawyer or some other reliable person 
cannot be found to undertake the work at a reasonable fee, 
especially if he were appointed by application to the Collector, 
and the cost of his appointment were divided among several 
estates or tenures. It would of course be desirable to avoid 
appointing the same agent for interests one of which was 
subordinate to another, but this could easily be avoided. 

The only point on which we feel some doubt is whether a 
common agent should be empowered to exercise all the ordinary 
powers of a landlord, particularly the right to settle waste or 
khas-purchased lands, or whether his duties should be confined 
to the mechanical functions contemplated in Sir John Kerr's 
Bill of 1925. It is one of the most annoying hindrances in the 
preparation of a record-of-rights to find that different co-sharer 
landlords have made settlements of the same land with different 
cultivators, or in shares differing from their legal shares, or 
at rents which are disproportionate to their shares. This may 
be a defect which cannot be remedied so long as the zamindari 
system remains. But whatever the desirability of giving full 
powers to common agents, we cannot recommend their 
appointment on such terms, thus making Collectors responsible 
for supervising perhaps half of the 3 million estates and tenures 
that exist in Bengal. Whether or not it is decided to acquire 
all the superior interests in land, we recommend that the 
Tenancy Act should be amended so as to make the appointment 
of common agents compulsory as proposed in the Bill of 1925. 

Some of our members however consider that although the 
appointment of common agents is desirable in theory, the 
practical difficulties would be so great, that their appointment 
should not be made compulsory. It would be preferable in 
their opinion to amend section 99 A of the Tenancy Act, in 



149 

order to provide that the Collector may appoint common 
agents on the application of the landlords, or more than half 
01 the tenants, or on his own motion. 

281. Co-parcenary among tenants. As regards co- 
parcenary in raiyati holdings it is an equal handicap to the 
landlords to have to serve notices on a large nun^er of co- 
sharers; and the tenants often take advantage of the 
technicalities of the law to delay cases, by claiming that 
necessary parties have been omitted, or tjiat heirs must be 
substituted. Partition is the obvious remedy by some system 
more expeditious and economical than the Civil Court, but in 
view of the impetus it would give to the extension of uneconomic 
holdings it cannot be recommended. There is no reason 
however why landlords should be reluctant to allow partitions 
of really large holdings, especially those in which different 
groups of cosharers have possession of separate land. Another 
remedy would be to change the Hindu and Muslim Laws of 
Succession. We have considered whether it would be possible 
to provide that a holding should descend to the eldest son or to 
a nominated son, or whether the law could provide that one 
heir should manage the property and pay the other heirs their 
share of the produce. As we have previously stated, both 
proposals seem to us impracticable. Even if there were public 
support to such a proposal, it would not help the economic 
position as a whole. Heirs thrown out of their ancestral 
property might be a danger to the community, and if each heir 
had a family, the profits from the holding would not suffice for 
the maintenance of all. Whether the farm was worked jointly, 
or by one heir acting as trustee for the rest, it would still not 
be sufficient to keep all the family members in comfort, and 
there might be endless complaints and litigation. 

It has been suggested to us that although it is impossible 
to check co-parcenary in raiyati holdings, it would minimise 
the difficulties of the landlords if all the holdings of each 
tenant, or of the same group of co-sharer tenants, were 
amalgamated into one holding. We consider that this is a 
reasonable suggestion and recommend its adoption. The 
objection that a tenant who failed to pay his rent might lose 
all his land, instead of only one holding, is met by the proposal 
which we have made in paragraph 315 that only such portion 
of a holding should be sold, as is sufficient to cover the amount 
of a rent decree. 

282. Maintenance of record-of-rights. No suggestions 
however for the restriction of co-parcenary either among 
landlords or tenants would have muclj practical effect in 



150 

improving the credit of agriculturists. The same can be said 
of the suggestion that agricultural credit would be improved by 
the maintenance of the record-of-rights. We strongly 
recommend this on its own merits. In our visits to other 
provinces we found that the officers and the public could not 
conceive of a system which allowed a record-of-rights once 
prepared tt) fall out of date owing to the absence of any agency 
to record mutations. In Bengal, the position is that the 
programme of district settlement operations is almost complete, 
and a programme of revisional operations is shortly to be 
undertaken, starting with those districts where the earliest 
records were prepared. If a raiyatwari system were in force 
in the Province, there would be no difficulty over the 
maintenance of records: the work would be done by Khas Mahal 
Tahsildars. But under the existing system it is extremely 
difficult to suggest any efficient agency for their maintenance. 
It is certainly a waste of public money that the records of a 
district should be revised, and then be allowed to fall out of 
date during the ensuing 25 or 30 years, when at the same time 
notices of all transfers are received in Sub-Registry Offices. 
We have considered the suggestion that the revised records 
might be maintained through the agency of a settlement staff 
attached to each Sub-Registry Office. If such a system were 
adopted it would also be necessary to provide that mutations 
by inheritance, new settlements, abandonments, exchanges of 
holdings or plots, and so forth, should be reported. It is 
doubtful whether legislation on these lines would be possible. 
The cost of maintaining such a system over a period of 25 or 30 
years would also have to be calculated in order to see whether 
it would prove in the long run more economical than revisional 
settlements. But no scheme of maintenance, any more than 
the appointment of common agents would operate, except 
indirectly, to improve agricultural credit. 

THE POSITION IN MADRAS. 

283. Debt legislation. We have described the economic 
conditions and the agricultural indebtedness that exist in the 
provinces we have visited. We propose now to give a brief 
account of the measures which have been taken in those 
provinces to deal with the situation. 

In Madras the Agriculturists' Relief Act was passed in 
March, 1938, with the object of scaling down existing debts, 
reducing the rate of interest on future debts, and writing off 
arrears of rent. Debts are classified into two categories: those 
which were incurred before, or after, 1st October 1932. In the 



151 

former class, all interest outstanding on that date is wiped out, 
and only the principal, or such portion as may not have been 
paid, is due from the agriculturists. If the repayments of 
principal and interest taken together amount to double the 
principal, the entire debt is wiped out 1 . If they amount to less 
than twice the principal, only the difference is payable. In the 
case of debts incurred after the 1st October 1932,' the principal 
or such portion of it as may be outstanding is not affected and 
has to be repaid. Relief is given only in respect of interest, 
which is calculated at 5 per cent, simple interest. All 
payments made towards interest are deducted from the 
interest calculated at this rate and only the balance, if any, 
remains due from an agriculturist. For future loans, i.e., loans 
incurred after the 22nd March 1938, interest has been limited 
to 6^ per cent, simple interest. 

If any immovable property of an agriculturist had been sold 
on or after the 1st October 1937, the debtor was entitled to 
apply to the Court within 90 days of the passing of the Act 
to have the sale set aside. The interest of the creditor was 
safeguarded by providing that any alienation of immovable 
property made by the debtor after the 1st October 1937 would 
be invalid against his creditor. If movable property had been 
sold after the same date, the sale held good, but the decree- 
h'older was required to refund any sum received in excess of 
his claim as a result of the sale. 

284. Land Mortgage Banks. There are three kinds of co- 
operative institutions in the Presidency : Land Mortgage 
Banks, Rural Co-operative Societies, and Sale Marketing 
Societies. The redemption of long term loans through Land 
Mortgage Banks has made much more rapid progress than in 
Bengal, but, as in Bengal, a debtor in Madras cannot borrow 
up to more than half the value of his property. If his present 
debt* exceeds this value he cannot clear his loan from a Land 
Mortgage Bank. There are 115 Mortgage Banks. Up to 
June 1938, they had issued loans amounting to If crores. The 
Land Mortgage Banks are financed by a Cxentral Land 
Mortgage Bank which raises money at 3 per cent, and lends it 
to the Land Mortgage Banks at 4|- per cent. Their rate of 
interest is 5| per cent, and repayment is spread over 20 years. 

285. Rural co-operative societies. The organisation of the 
Co-operative Department is the same as in Bengal but the 
rate of interest is lower. Rural societies are financed by 

ir This is commonly known as the law of damdupat vide Report of Provincial 
Banking Enquiry Committee, paragraph 316, 



152 

Central Banks and Central Banks by the Provincial Bank. 
The interest charged by rural societies is 7^ per cent., by the 
Central Banks 5 per cent., and by the Provincial Bank 4 per 
cent. Since the passing of the Agriculturists 5 Relief Act, 
25 per cent, of the rural societies have brought down their rate 
of interest to 6^ per cent. There are 11,000 societies, whose 
advances rfcpresent about 6 per cent, of the agricultural debt. 
Few of them have gone into liquidation, because Madras has 
avoided the mistake of making no distinction between long term 
and short term loans. The policy of short term loans was 
adopted in 1929, and the total capital that has been employed 
on such loans is 2-11 crores. Short term credit is allowed 
mostly for productive purposes and is repayable at the 
following harvest. Loans are however allowed for marriage 
expenses, but in no case can they exceed Es. 200. As in 
Bengal, the members of societies have unlimited liability. 

286. Marketing societies. Marketing societies are 
managed on a co-operative basis and are controlled by the 
Provincial Marketing Sale Society. There are 118 such 
societies with a paid up share capital of 1-84- lakhs. These 
societies were-recently established and in order to control credit, 
i.e., to ensure that the loans granted are used for the proper 
purpose, the department has introduced the system of control 
credit. Loans are granted as and when required, but thfe 
borrower has to undertake to bring all his produce to the sale 
society, which arranges for its sale to the best advantage. 
There is at present a sale society in each taluq, consisting of 
60 or 70 villages. In order to encourage marketing societies 
Government have lent the services of Co-operative Inspectors, 
and have advanced money for the construction of godowns. 
Of these grants, 25 per cent, is given by Government, and the 
remainder is recovered by instalments over 30 years. 

287, Debt Adjustment Boards. Debt Adjustment Boards 
had been recently started when our Commission visited Madras. 
They have no compulsory powers, as is the case with the 
majority of ordinary Boards in Bengal, and the scaling down 
of debts has to be made with the consent of the creditors. The 
chief difference between the systems in the two provinces is that 
in Madras the Government had made arrangements by which 
the debtors can pay off the adjusted debts by fresh borrowing 
financed from Government funds. In Bengal this can only be 
done in cases which are dealt with by the Land Mortgage 
Banks' Special Boards. The amount available for this purpose 
is necessarily limited by the budget provision and would never 
be available to all debtors even over a series of years. 



153 



THE POSITION IN THE PUNJAB. 

288. Debt legislation. In the Punjab, the Eelief of 
Indebtedness Act was passed in 1934 and the Debtors' 
Protection Act in 1936. The effect of this legislation has been 
a great restriction of credit : in fact it has virtually brought 
about a moratorium. The Debtors' Protection Act has 
prevented creditors from selling up land or attaching any crop, 
except cotton, and the items of movable property which are 
exempted from attachment are so numerous that it is practically 
impossible for creditors to realise anything through the Courts. 

289. Co-operative societies. The co-operative movement 
seems to have made more progress than in Bengal. There are 
now upwards of 17,000 rural societies with a membership 
representing 11 per cent, of the agricultural families in the 
province. The total advances outstanding with societies 
amount to 6-20 crores. The Co-operative Department has 
experienced the same difficulties as has Bengal owing to the 
economic depression. There are now 1,400 societies in process 
of liquidation owing to their failure to pay their dues to the 
C.entral Banks. 

The policy of the department is now to devote 75 per cent, 
of loans to short term credit for the purchase of cattle, seeds, 
and for the payment of land revenue, and 25 per cent, to other 
loans. Advances are made to members on the surety of two 
other persons. This is necessary because of the provisions of 
the Land Alienation Act. Loans are allowed for the payment 
of land revenue, because the revenue has to be paid by the end 
of January, and landowners often wait for a rise in the price 
of ootton before selling their crops. Such loans have to be 
repaid within six months. Loans are also allowed for trading 
purposes, because some agriculturists purchase cattle on a large 
scale and sell them on the frontier. The co-operative movement 
is not altogether popular, as is the case in all provinces, because 
of its strictness in recovering advances. In the Punjab it is 
more successful in the canal irrigated areas than in the barani 
areas, where the success of the crop is often uncertain, and 
regular payment is more difficult. The interest payable by 
members of rural societies varies from 9i per cent, to 12| per 
cent, and although money-lenders usually take anything from 
20 to 40 per cent, people often prefer to go to them because they 
are more accommodating. 



154 

290. Debt Conciliation Boards. Debt Conciliation 
Boards were first established in 1937 in five districts. Their 
success induced Government to extend the experiment and to 
establish Boards in each of the remaining districts. There are 
now 29 Boards. They correspond more to the Special Boards 
of Bengal than to the ordinary Boards. Their Chairman and 
members are paid a salary of Rs. 200 and Es. 150 a month, 
respectively. The cost of maintaining 27 Boards in 1938-39 
was 1 -63 lakhs and the average monthly disposal was 25 cases. 
The only fee charged from the parties is 8 annas per claim, 
irrespective of the amount 1 . Debts to banks and co-operative 
societies and on account of land revenue are excluded from the 
operation of Debt Conciliation Boards, but not rent. No 
distinction is made between debt incurred for agricultural and 
social reasons, but trading debts are excluded. The reduction 
of debt effected amounted in 1937 to 46 lakhs. 

THE POSITION IN THE UNITED PROVINCES. 

291. Debt legislation. In the United Provinces, the 
Encumbered Estates Act was passed to assist indebted 
proprietors. The period for filing applications recently 
expired. The number of applications filed was 34,000 involv- 
ing a sum of 25^ crores. These were investigated by Special 
Judges, who reduced the rate of interest and declared what was 
the fair debt. On the basis of these judicial findings the 
Collector has to work out the valuation of the property, and 
fix instalments according to the proprietor's ability to pay. 
The money-lender is given a bond, and the instalments of debt 
are collected along with the land revenue. 

Up to the present, no legislation has been passed for scaling 
down the debts of tenants and there are no Debt Conciliation 
Boards. But several Bills were recently introduced in the 
legislature. The Agriculturists' and Workmen's Debt 
Redemption Bill was introduced with the object of scaling 
down debts and drastically reducing the rate of interest, 
especially in the case of small tenants. It only applies to 
landlords who pay less than Rs. 1,000 as land revenue and is 
designed to protect part of their property from sale in execution 
of a decree. In the case of tenants it provides that not more 

*In Bengal, the fee is 1 per cent, of the adjusted debt. The annual cost of working the 
Boards is about 19 lakhs, and the number of cases disposed of in 1939 was 2.9 lakhs. The 
cost of working the Boards up to date has been practically covered by the fees realised. 
Up to the end of July 1939 creditors' claims amounted to 8.15 crores, and the debt deter- 
mined under section 18 of the Actto 4.61 crores. 



155 

than one- fourth of the cultivator's crop can be attached at any 
harvest in execution of a decree. 

The Money-lenders Bill provides for the registration and 
licensing of professional money-lenders. When it becomes law 
only licensed money-lenders will be allowed to apply to Courts 
for the recovery of their dues. 

The Regulation of Agricultural Credit Bill provides that 
no decree can be executed against agricultural produce after 
four years have expired from the date of a decree. It also 
protects the land of proprietors paying less than Rs. 250 as 
revenue by providing that their estates cannot be sold in 
execution of a decree, unless the Court is satisfied that the sale 
would not be adverse to the debtor's interest. 

A third Bill provides that land which is protected against 
the execution of a decree cannot be permanently alienated 
without the Collector's permission. This provision is based 
on a similar enactment in the Bundlekhand Alienation of Land 
Act, which prohibits transfers to non-agriculturists in the area. 
The difference between that Act and the Bill is that no 
distinction is made in the Bill between agricultural and non- 
agricultural classes. 

In addition to these Bills, a fourth Bill is under 
consideration, the chief provisions of which are to amend the 
Civil Procedure Code in order to exempt further property of 
agriculturists from attachment and sale; to amend the 
Usurious Loans Act by reducing the rate of interest; and to 
provide a simple procedure for the redemption of mortgages. 

292. Co-operative societies. The Co-operative Depart- 
ment in the United Provinces is in much the same position, and 
seems to have made much the same mistakes as has the 
department in Bengal. When the movement was first 
introduced, the work of organisation was not carried out on 
sound lines. From 1904 to 1924 the expansion was too rapid, 
and the formation of rural societies, was not thoroughly 
organised. When the slump came, many societies were 
compelled to go into liquidation. Since 1932 the policy of the 
department has been one of cautious expansion. At present 
the number of rural societies covers between 5 and 6 per cent, 
of the agricultural population. Previously no distinction was 
made between short term and long term credit, and, as in 
Bengal, liability was joint and unlimited. It is now under 
consideration whether the principle of joint liability should be 
abandoned and that of limited liability substituted. 



156 

THE POSITION IN BENGAL. 

293. Co-operative Societies Bill. Legislation in Bengal 
dealing with agricultural credit and the co-operative movement 
consists of the Co-operative Societies Act and its Amending 
Bill of 1939, the Money-lenders Bill of 1939, and the 
Agricultural Debtors Act of 1935 with the Amending Bill of 
1939. The Co-operative Societies Bill gives wider powers to 
the Registrar to control societies if the rules are contravened, 
or if there is mismanagement. In order to control alienation, 
it compels members of societies to report sales, mortgages, or 
transfers of any kind, and it limits loans to the maximum credit 
of each member, at the same time providing a penalty for the 
issue of loans in excess of the stipulated amounts. A Land 
Mortgage Bank is empowered to apply for the distraint and 
sale of crops if any instalment has remained unpaid for more 
than one month. Though the tendency in European countries 
has been to substitute limited liability, and the same proposal 
is being considered by the United Provinces Government, joint 
liability has been retained. The Bill does not separate 
supervision from audit. Although the Select Committee were 
in favour of separation in principle, they were unable for 
financial and other reasons to recommend it. The Royal 
Commission on Agriculture pointed out the desirability of 
separating these two branches of co-operative work 1 , and we 
think it desirable that this recommendation should be put into 
effect as early as possible. 

We are also doubtful whether it is a sound principle to 
limit loans to the maximum credit of members of societies, 
rather than to their maximum income. Their maximum credit 
is the total value of their property. If they fail to repay their 
debts, they may lose their entire property; but if their credit is 
restricted to the amount of their income, this is not the case. 

294. Money-lenders Bill. The main objects of the Money- 
lenders Bill are to register money-lenders and to reduce the rate 
of interest. The Bill contains the same provision as the 
Madras Agriculturists' Relief Act, that no debt can exceed 
twice the amount of the original principal. Interest is fixed 
at 8 per cent, on secured loans and at 10 per cent, on unsecured 
loans. The difficulty of enforcing these rates is that a money- 
lender can always evade the law by entering in the bond a 
larger sum than the actual loan. Some difficulty may also arise 

1 Report, paragraph 377. 



157 

in enforcing the provisions of the Bill in the case of persons 
who are not by profession money-lenders, but who make 
advances of money or paddy to their tenants or bargadars. It 
is the general practice in Jalpaiguri district that adhiars are 
financed by their jotedars. The loans taken from rural 
societies or from co-operative banks are rightly excluded from 
the operation of the Bill. * 

295. Agricultural Debtors Act. Nearly all of our 
witnesses severely criticised the Agricultural Debtors Act on 
the grounds that it is an interference with the sanctity of 
contract, that its working and procedure are defective, and that 
it has killed all rural credit. We are not prepared to say that 
the defects of the Act are such that it should be repealed. It 
has served as a useful buffer at a time when indebtedness had 
become such a serious problem in the Province, that grave 
results might have ensued had there been no means for bringing 
creditors and debtors together. Although the Act has hardly 
been in operation long enough to judge the effect of the awards, 
so far as we can see it has served its purpose, and repayments 
of instalments fixed by the Boards are being regularly made. 
Up to date certificates have only had to be filed in about 1 per 
cent, of the cases. 

We do not consider that it was a mistake to bring arrear 
rents within the purview of the Act. But we consider it 
desirable to provide that priority should be given to the 
repayment of rent in the instalments fixed by the Boards, on 
the ground that rent is the first charge on the land. Such a 
provision can be made under the rules, and we understand that 
unless arrears of rent amount to more than half of the debt, the 
time allowed for the repayment of rent cannot exceed four 
years. It is only because there is a Permanent Settlement in 
Bengal that a delay of as long as four years can be allowed. 
It is hardly conceivable that any Government which has a 
raiyatwari system would allow the payment of its revenue to be 
postponed in this manner. 

The procedure of the Boards has not been altogether 
satisfactory. The intention of the Act was to effect amicable 
settlement between creditor and debtor before honorary Boards 
by an "extra-judicial" procedure. The procedure should 
therefore have been as simple and expeditious as possible, but 
the Act has, perhaps necessarily, introduced a number of 
technicalities which have sometimes proved to be beyond the 
administrative capacity of Boards thajt have no legal training. 



158 

It may also be doubted whether the clerical work of the Boards 
can be adequately and efficiently carried out by clerks on a 
salary of Rs. 10 a month. 

296. Land Mortgage Banks. There are five Land 
Mortgage Banks which have advanced Rs. 6^ lakhs up to date. 
They derivp their money by borrowing from the Provincial 
Bank. The progress of tnese Banks is necessarily slow. 
Applications for loans have to be carefully examined by the 
Provincial Bank, and before any loan can be granted it is 
necessary to ensure that all the co-sharers have been made 
parties to the application. No loan can be granted which 
exceeds 50 per cent, of the security, and the security must be 
land in which the applicant holds at least a raiyati right. It 
is possible that this provision will restrict the scope of 
the Banks as in Madras, where only 10 per cent, of the 
applicants had sufficient security to offer. Each Bank has its 
own special Board attached to it, which deals with the scaling 
down of debts when applications for loans are made. 

297. Co-operative societies. In Bengal there are 25,000 
agricultural credit societies, the membership of which covers 
6 per cent, of the rural population. In the past the 
department has made several mistakes in policy, to 
rectify which may take a good many years. Rural societies 
were established too rapidly and often without sufficient 
investigation. When the economic depression began, many of 
them were forced to go into liquidation. The powers of the 
Registrar were insufficient; there was no distinction between 
long term and short term credit; the supervising staff 
was inadequate and completely untrained, and in consequence 
the lion's share of the credit was sometimes appropriated by 
a few influential members. Instead of the societies 
extinguishing the pre-existing debts of their members, 
they allowed them to get deeper and deeper into debt. It is 
expected that these defects will be removed by the Co-operative 
Societies Bill of 1939, but it will take time to extend 
the co-operative movement on a sounder basis, and it has to be 
recognised that for many years to come such agricultural credit 
as may be available will be provided very largely by the money- 
lenders. 

298. Agricultural Banks. Some of our witnesses have 
suggested that it is desirable to replace the traditional form of 
money-lending by establishing Government-controlled Agricul- 
tural Banks in every thana. We do not consider that this 
proposal is altogether desirable or practicable. It has been 



159 

represented to us that the establishment of Agricultural Banks 
would necessarily lead to the recovery of loans by stringent 
measures which 'would undoubtedly be unpopular. It might 
operate as a check on the normal outlet of national finance if 
Government acts as a money-lender through Agricultural 
Banks, and Government's management would certainly be more 
expensive. The cost of such a scheme might be prohibitive. 
Apart from the cost of constructing the necessary buildings, 
the capital involved would amount to a huge sum. One 
estimate which we were given was that each village might 
require between Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 2,500 and that 75 per cent, 
of the villagers might take loans. Another estimate was that 
the capital required for an average sized thana of 150 square 
miles would be 2^ lakhs. The capital required for the whole 
Province might therefore be in the region of 12 crores. To 
supply such a large sum would be financially impossible. 

We think that if Government is to become the direct creditor 
of the agricultural population, agricultural loans under the 
present system are the most convenient form. We believe 
it is correct to say that these loans have generally been entirely 
recovered or, at any rate, that their issue has not involved any 
financial loss to Government. So far as is consistent with 
budgetary arrangements, we are in favour of extending the 
grant of agricultural loans, provided they do not overlap the 
operations of co-operative societies. 

299. Recommendations. We recognise that the reorgani- 
sation of the Co-operative Department may take time, but we 
are in favour of as rapid an extension of the co- 
operative movement as is consistent with sound organisation 
and management. The supervising staff .needs to be strengthen- 
ed, and we think it important that it should aim not only at 
the organisation of rural societies, but at the education and 
training of the people in co-operative principles. The loans 
issued by Central Banks to rural societies should be devoted 
to short term credit only, long term credit being dealt with 
entirely by Land Mortgage Banks. The loans issued by rural 
societies should be given for productive purposes, i.e., for the 
purchase of seed, cattle, agricultural implements and the like, 
and should normally be restricted to small amounts, not 
exceeding Rs. 20 or Rs. 25. The rate of interest for these 
loans should be as low as possible. We believe that this policy 
would not only prove to be popular, and encourage the 
extension of the co-operative movement, but that by restricting- 
the amount of loans it would facilitate repayment. 



160 

We think that the need for linking credit to marketing has 
not been given sufficient attention in the past. We have been 
told in evidence that the marketing societies at Parbatipur, 
Goshaba, and Khepupara have proved successful, and there 
is no reason why similar societies should not be established. 
We have already referred to the development of market- 
ing societies in Madras, where the whole organisation is 
controlled by a central society. A similar development 
is possible in Bengal, provided that the rule requiring members 
to bring their crops to the society's warehouse is strictly 
enforced. 

The question of strengthening and training the supervising 
staff raises the wider question of inspection in the mufassal. 
In nearly every thana there are at present several Government 
officials belonging to different departments, each of whom moves 
over the same area, carrying out different duties. We suggest 
that Government might conside^ the desirability of training 
these officers in all branches of work. We believe that this 
proposal is practicable, and that it would result in greater 
efficiency of inspection, and give greater authority to each of 
the officers, because the area under his control would consist 
of only three or four unions, and he would be in sole charge 
of all branches of work. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Realisation of Rent. 

HISTORY OF RENT RECOVERY 

300. Jurisdiction. The jurisdiction over rent suits has 
since the British period vested at different periods in Revenue 
and Civil Courts. Prior to the Permanent Settlement, the 
decision of all disputes regarding rent was in the hands of 
Collectors, who were given power in 1789 to proceed against 
the tenants for arrears of rent in the manner prescribed for 
proceeding against the zamindars and farmers who had 
defaulted in the payment of Government revenue. In 1793 
the jurisdiction of the Mai Adalats, or Revenue Courts, was 
transferred to the newly established Dewani Adalats, on the 
ground that the proprietors could never feel secure in the 
privileges conferred upon them while Revenue Officers were 
vested with judicial powers, because if the Regulations for the 
collection of the revenue were infringed, the Collectors would 
be in the position of complainants as well as judges 1 . 
Zamindars were at this time empowered to distrain crops and 
cattle, other than cattle used for cultivation, without previous 
notice to the Collector, but they were prohibited from confining 
and punishing defaulters. Regulation XVII of 1793 con- 
tained provisions for distraint, but laid down that distrained 
proper tv could only be sold by the Kazi or local Magistrate. 
Regulation XXXV of 1795 made a further provision that if 
arrears of rent amounted to more than Rs. 500 the defaulter 
could be detained in custody on application to the Dewani 
Adalat. The Haptam (Regulation VII of 1799) was passed, 
as we have described, to provide stringent powers for the 
realisation of rent, and thus to secure the Government 
revenue. The zamindars were allowed to delegate the power 
of distraint to their agents, and distrained property could be 
sold by the Kazi within five days of attachment. If distraint 
failed, the defaulter could be arrested on application to the 
Dewani Adalat, and kept in custody until he paid the arrears 
with costs and interest. These drastic powers were partially 
modified by the Panjam (Regulation V of 1812). A written 
notice had to be served on a tenant before the property of a 

1 Preamble to Regulation II of 1793. 

12 



162 

tenant could be distrained; arrest was abolished; and cattle, 
ploughs, and agricultural implements were exempted from 
attachment. 

The jurisdiction of the Civil Courts continued until 1831, 
when Regulation VIII was passed retransferring the 
jurisdictiop over rent suits to Collectors in order "to provide 
more effectually for the adjustment of suits and claims relating 
to arrears or exactions of rent". Collectors were empowered 
to decide such claims summarily, and their awards were to be 
final, subject to a regular suit by the aggrieved party if brought 
within one year. The summary jurisdiction of the Collectors 
was restricted to the realisation of arrear rents, and did not 
a PPty to cases in which enhanced rent was claimed, unless 
there were bona fide written engagements for such enhance- 
ments. In 1832 provision was made in Regulation VII that 
regular suits to set aside the summary decisions of Collectors 
might be instituted before Sadar Amins, principal Sadar 
Amins, and Munsiffs, according to the valuation of the suits. 
When the Rent Act was passed in 1859, the question of 
jurisdiction was again discussed, and there was a considerable 
body of opinion in favour of transferring rent suits to the Civil 
Courts. The Act however maintained the jurisdiction of 
Collectors until 1869, when Act VIII transferred rent suits 
to the Civil Courts, and there they have since remained. 

The Tenancy Act of 1885 provided that tenants could not 
be evicted for default, but that their holdings had to be sold in 
execution of a rent decree obtained in the Civil Court. The 
provisions for distraint were retained in the Act, and the 
landlords could still distrain through Court standing crops or 
crops which had been reaped. Distraint was abolished by the 
Tenancy Act of 1928, partly because it had been little used, 
and partly because public opinion was opposed to it. 

301. History of certificate procedure. Realisation of 
arrear rent by certificate was introduced by Act VII of 1880, 
which empowered Collectors to apply the procedure in the case 
of arrears due to Government. The amending Act I of 1895 
enabled landlords other than Government to have recourse to the 
same procedure with Government's approval. The conditions 
on which certificate procedure was granted to private 
proprietors were that the record-of -rights was maintained, 
i.e., that it was revised by Government at intervals at the 
landlord's expense, and that relations between the proprietors 
and their tenants were cordial. The number of landlords who 
have applied for certificate procedure is small. In 1936-37 
there were only 210 estates with powers under section 158A of 



163 

the Tenancy Act. In 1938 the amending Tenancy Act withdrew 
certificate procedure from the private landlords, and by 
executive orders it was suspended lor two years in Government 
and Court of Wards estates. The only private estate, which 
now possesses certificate powers is that of the Nawab Bahadur 
of Murshidabad. 

RECOVERY IN THE PROVINCES VISITED. 

302. Recovery in Madras. In Madras all arrears of rent 
whether in the raiyatwari or zamindari parts of the Presidency 
are realised through Revenue Courts. In the raiyatwari area 
there are virtually no arrears of rent. If the Government 
assessment is not paid it can be recovered either by selling the 
holding or by distraining the crops. It is not often necessary 
however to put up holding to sale. In cases where a pattadar 
has sublet, and fails to pay his assessment, the sub-lessee 
generally pays it in order to avoid distraint of his crops. He 
deducts the amount from the rent payable to his pattadar and 
receives an official receipt for the amount paid to Government. 
In the permanently settled area, the zamindars apply to the 
Revenue Courts for the realisation of arrear rents. The same 
procedure is followed as in the raiyatwari area but it generally 
takes rather longer to conclude the proceedings. Realisation 
is normally effected in the raiyatwari area within six months 
and in the permanently settled area, it may take about 9 
months. 

303. In the Punjab. In the Punjab, suits for arrear 
rents are filed by landowners before Revenue Courts. 
Recovery can be made by distraint, attachment of crops, or 
the tenant may be ejected. He may even be arrested and kept 
in confinement by the Tahsildar's order. Most cases concern 
tenants-at-will who pay half of the crop. In these cases the 
amount of produce to be paid has to be determined, and regard 
is had to the estimated yields prepared by the Settlement 
Department.' These are usually calculated on a conservative 
basis: consequently they go in favour of the tenant in a normal 
season. The procedure before Revenue Courts is summary, and 
decrees are often obtained in the lower Court within six weeks. 
There might be a longer delay if appeals were filed to higher 
revenue authorities, but as a general rule the recovery of arrear 
rents is very expeditious. 

304. In the United Provinces. In the United Provinces 
recovery of arrears is also made through Revenue Courts. 
The produce of every holding is hypothecated for the payment 



164 

of rent, and until that claim has been satisfied, no other 
demand, except a Government demand, can be enforced by 
any Court. The dates and instalments for the payment of 
rent are fixed, and any amount which is not paid by the due 
date becomes an arrear. Previous to the amending Act which 
received the Governor's assent in December 1939, arrears of 
rents could be recovered by distraint, or by ejectment if the 
tenant failed to pay after issue of a notice by the Tahsildar. 
The amending Act has substantially altered the law. 
Distraint has been abolished, and the landlord has to obtain a 
decree in the Revenue Court. This may be executed by selling 
the whole or a portion of the holding, and if the decree has 
not been satisfied in full within one year of the order, the 
tenant may be ejected from a portion of the holding, the rent 
of which does not exceed one-sixth of the decretal amount. 
The Court is also empowered to lease the holding for a maximum 
of six years to any person who pays the decretal amount. 

The law regarding ejectment has also been changed. After 
obtaining a decree for arrears in the Revenue Court, the 
landlord may file an application for ejectment between the first 
day of June and the last day of August. If the claim is 
admitted by the defaulting tenant, he is ordered to pay the 
arrear and current rent into Court by the end of May next 
following the expiry of one year from the date of the order. If 
he contests the claim, he is ordered to deposit in Court the rent 
of each agricultural year, as it falls due, by the end of May. 
If he does not comply, he is immediately ejected. The effect 
of the amending law is therefore that once a tenant gets into 
arrears he cannot hold for more than one year unless he pays 
bis rent in full. The procedure before Revenue Courts is 
summary and decrees are normally obtained within two or 
three months. There is a provision that not more than three 
adjournments may be given and that cases must be disposed 
of within six months. 

THE POSITION IN BENGAL. 

305. Arrears of rent. In Bengal the arrears of rent are 
much heavier than in any of the provinces which we have 
visited. The general practice is for landlords to sue for the 
rent of the three previous years, together with that of the 
current year which is about to expire. Although suits for rent 
may be brought after an interval of 9 months, following a 
previous suit against the same tenancy, the great majority of 
landlords prefer to sue for the full period of limitation, either 
because they think that a succession of suits would be 



165 



harassing to their tenants, or because the cost of litigation is too 
great to allow the filing of suits each year. It is the rule rather 
than the exception that rents in permanently settled estates 
are two years in arrears, and in some estates they may be more 
The situation has been aggravated by the low prices of 
agricultural produce during the last 10 years, and in some 
areas by the agitation against the payment of rent The 
withdrawal of certificate procedure has led to the filing of civil 
suits against tenants in khas mahal estates, and it is believed 
that this method of recovery is likely to prove even more 
unpopular than certificate procedure. 

306. Special procedure under section 148<k), Bengal 
L e o a ,?? y A**- Although the existing law provides in section 
148 (k) of the Tenancy Act for the issue of special notices and 
a more summary procedure, it seems that little use has been 
made of it, either because landlords were not aware of its 
provisions, or because they did not think it more advantageous 
than the ordinary procedure. It has been criticised on the 
ground that we parte decrees, which are granted in the great 
majority of rent suits, can be subsequently set aside under 
section I48(k)(iv): and that the provision was withdrawn by 
the amending Tenancy Act of 1938 whereby an application to 
set aside a decree had to be accompanied by a deposit amounting 
to half of the sum decreed. % 

307 Effect of Debt Settlement Boards. It has been 
stated by some of our witnesses that the collection of rent has 
been adversely affected by the establishment of Debt Settlement 
Boards, and that the Agricultural Debtors Act is open to 
criticism on the ground that rent is not a debt which should 
have been included within the scope of the Act. This point 
was taken into consideration when the Act was framed, and 
renMvas included among agricultural debts on the ground that 
if an award was passed for the repayment of ordinary debt, 
excluding rent, the landlord might sell up the holding 'at any 
time during the period fixed for repayment of the debt, and 
there would then be no security for the debt. At the same time 
the Act may operate unfairly on landlords, if instalments 
are fixed over a number of years, and we have already 
recommended in paragraph 295 that priority should be given 
to the repayment of rent, on the ground that it is the first 
charge on the land. 

308 Criticism of existing procedure. The Civil Court 
procedure for the disposal of rent suits has been severely 
criticised by nearly all our witnesses on the ground that it is 



Iftft 

expensive and harassing both to landlord and tenant, and that 
it is unnecessarily cumbrous and dilatory. It has been stated, 
not without reason, that when rent suits are defended, the 
amount paid on account of costs, lawyers' fees, and the 
numerous journeys to and from the Civil Courts, are out of all 
proportion to the rent claimed. We have also been given 
several acftial examples of the delay in disposing of rent suits, 
but it is common knowledge that their disposal not infrequently 
takes three or four years. This means that a landlord who is 
suing for three years' arrears may receive nothing for 7 or 8 
years. The chief grounds on which the actual procedure of the 
Courts has been criticised by our witnesses are : 

(i) the service of notices is slow and inefficient, and the 
dishonesty that prevails among the Civil Court staff, 
particularly the process-serving peons, delays the 
proceedings still further; 

(i?) there are no effective means for checking frivolous 
pretexts in rent suits. A tenant may falsely claim 
that his holding is rent-free. That question has to 
be decided as a separate issue but if the claim is 
proved to be false no action can be taken to 
penalise the false statement; 

(Hi) the proceedings before the Court may be dragged on 
by various pretexts for several years and the 
defendant, may absent himself on the final date of 
hearing. An ex parte decree is passed and the 
tenant is then at liberty to make an application and 
have the decree set aside; 

(iv) when a decree for rent has been obtained, often more 
than a year after the plaint w r as filed, a separate 
execution case has to be filed which may take 
another two years to complete. Once the record- 
of-rights has been prepared and the rents have beei} 
recorded, the first stage could be greatly expedited; 

(v) the possession which the Civil Court gives as a result 
of execution proceedings, is always supposed to be 
actual possession as opposed to symbolical 
possession, unless there is a sub-tenant on the land. 
In practice, the decree-holder often finds it 
impossible to secure possession within a reasonable 
time. As soon as a decree for rent has been executed 
by delivery of possession, it should amount to 
criminal trespass if the tenant continues to occupy 
the land. 



167 

REMEDIES SUGGESTED. 

309. Revised Civil Court procedure. While nearly all 
our witnesses are agreed that the present procedure for 
realising arrear rents is highly unsatisfactory, they have pro- 
posed different remedies, and have made various ' : -. 
for improving the present position. Some are iA favour of 
retaining the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts, but of simplifying 
and expediting the procedure. It was suggested that the 
service of processes should be made by sending one copy to the 
Union Board and one by registered post. The postal receipt 
and the affidavit of the Union Board dafadar or chaukidar 
should be taken as evidence of service, and a time-limit of one 
month should be fixed for the service of processes. If the 
holding is brought to sale the sale certificate should be issued 
promptly. 

310. Certificate procedure. The view of the most 
experienced Revenue Officers who gave evidence was that 
certificate procedure, or something as near as possible to it, 
should be given to all landlords and tenure-holders. There 
would have to be adequate safeguards: certificate procedure 
should only be used when the rent sued for is that entered in 
the ^record-of-rights, and it would have to be properly 
administered. The record-of -rights would also have to be 
maintained. The object would then be to enforce payment of 
rent after each harvest. The Special Officer who enquired 
into the working of certificate procedure in khas mahal estates 
came to the same conclusion, that it is an efficient and a fair 
system provided that it is rightly administered. We believe 
that the unpopularity of certificate procedure has not been 
due to any inherent defect in the system, but to the fact that 
it has not always been properly administered. It has 
sometimes tended to become mechanical in its operation, and 
the disposal of certificate cases has in some instances been 
delayed no less than civil suits. 

311. Revenue Courts. Some of our witnesses proposed 
that realisation of arrear rents should be made by a summary 
procedure before Revenue Officers similar to that governing 
the sale of patnis under Regulation VIII of 1819. They 
suggested that applications for the sale of holdings should be 
maae once a year after the principal harvest and that 
limitation should be reduced to one year. Any disputes 
regarding the amount of rent would be summarily decided, 
and no sale would be set aside unless the full amount were 



168 

deposited within 30 days of the sale, except in cases where 
fraud was established. This procedure would be simple and 
expeditious and might be made inexpensive to landlord and 
tenant. 

312. Distraint. The restoration of distraint was 
suggested by some of our witnesses who thought that although 
it might be difficult to carry out, the mere threat of distraint 
would act as a deterrent against the non-payment of rent. 
They pointed out that although distraint was abolished from 
the Tenancy Act in 1928, it is still in force as a means of 
recovering arrears under certificate procedure, and it is 
commonly used in other provinces. It is true that distraint 
is used in Madras and the Punjab and was only recently 
abolished in the United Provinces, but those provinces have a 
revenue organisation in the villages which makes distraint a 
more practicable proposition than in Bengal. In Madras 
there is a headman in each village called the Munsiff , who has 
under him a clerk, called the Kurnam and two or three peons. 
In the Punjab and the United Provinces there are Tahsilars 
in charge of three or four villages, and lambardars in each 
village. In Bengal, where no similar organisation exists, 
distraint is much more difficult to carry out in practice, and its 
restoration might lead to serious opposition. It is practically 
impossible for any Court to find sufficient staff to have recourse 
to this procedure at the right time of the year, if many tenants 
are in arrears at the same time. 

313. Payment by money order. Another suggestion which 
we have considered is that payment of rent by money order 
should be made compulsory. The chief advantage 'of this 
method would be that the demand of any abwabs at the time 
of payment of rent, would automatically disappear. The 
existing law already protects landlords sufficiently against any 
incorrect statements which might be made in the money ordfer 
form. 

We are not in favour of this suggestion. Tenants only 
pay their rent by money order when they apprehend that no 
rent receipt will be granted, or when a dispute exists. Whfen 
such payments are made they are often not properly accounted 
for by the landlords' agents. In any case, this method of 
payment would be of no advantage whatever if the rent was not 
paid. The same difficulty of realising the arrear rent would 
remain. We think therefore that payment by money order 
should not be madfe compulsory, but should be left, as at 
present, to the option of the tenants. 



169 

At the same time it has been represented to us that 
landlords sometimes refuse to accept rent tendered by money 
order. Considering that the law protects them adequately 
against any misstatements in a money order form, we see no 
rfeason why they should ever refuse to accept rent tendered 
by this method. We consider that the penalty for refusal, 
prescribed in section 64A of the Tenancy Act might be made 
more stringent. Some of our members consider that if rent 
tendered by money order is refused, the landlord should 
forfeit his claim. We also think that the postal receipt for a 
money order should be accepted as conclusive evidence 
of remittance, and that it should not be necessary to call for 
the evidence of postal peons. On the same analogy deposits 
of rents in the Civil Court should be permitted without 
requiring anyone to identify the tenant. 

RECOMMENDATIONS. 

314. Revenue Courts preferred. We have considered the 
suggestions which have been made to us for improving the 
realisation of arrear rents and the procedure that is in forcfe 
in the provinces which we have visited. We hold the view 
that the present system in Bengal is cumbrous, dilatory and 
unnecessarily expensive to landlord and tenant alike. 

So long as the zamindari system remains, in view of the 
stringency of the sunset law by which Government realises its 
revenue from the zamindars, it is clearly the duty of 
Government to provide the zamindars with an efficient 
machinery for collecting their rents. Further, it is not to the 
interest of the raiyat himself to be able to evade the obligation 
of paying his dues. 

The situation in Bengal has been radically altered by the 
preparation of a record-of -rights. Now that all rents have 
been recorded, and the relationship of landlord and tenant 
determined, provided that the rfecord-of-rights is reasonably 
up to date, the argument that Civil Courts are necessary to 
adjudicate these questions loses much of its force. All rent 
cases should in general be confined to the issue whether rent 
has been paid or not. 

There is no reason why the officers presiding over Revenue 
Courts should not have the same status and legal qualifications 
as officers presiding over the Civil Courts. This is only a 
question of recruitment. Sir John Kerr's Committee 
considered at great length all possible suggestions for the 
simplification of the Civil Court procedure; but it has to be 



170 

admitted that the changes made, especially the introduction 
of section 148 (k) for the summary disposal of rent suits, did 
not give the result expected. 

The advantage of certificate procedure is that it obviates 
the necessity of going through the first stage of Civil Court 
procedure, that is, the obtaining of a decree. The failures 
and unpopularity of the certificate procedure have been due not 
to any inherent defect, but to the fact that it has not always 
been properly administered. We think that its principles are 
sound. The fact that the Certificate is itself regarded as a 
decree is subject to this important modification that it is always 
open to the judgment-debtor to dispute the decree by filing an 
objection under section 9 of the Public Demands Recovery 
Act. This is practically the procedure we suggest for the 
summary disposal of rent suits by Revenue Officers. Whether 
or not a scheme of State acquisition is put into operation, our 
recommendation is that the jurisdiction of rent suits should 
vest in Revenue Officers. 

315. Outline of procedure. We do not think it is 
necessary or desirable that we should attempt to give a concise 
account of the procedure to be followed, the amount of court- 
fees to be levied, and so on: it is sufficient to indicate the 
outlines of the scheme which we advocate. Our chief object 
is to ensure that rent suits should be summarily disposed of 
by Revenue Officers at local centres after the main harvest each 
year. The applications would be fited by landlords at 
subdivisional headquarters, where they would be grouped 
together in batches, and taken up for hearing at convenient 
local centres. A general notice would be issued first, and this 
would be followed by individual notices. The time for filing 
applications should be laid down having regard to the principal 
harvests in each district, so that the recovery of arrear rents 
could be started immediately after the harvest. 

The procedure would be summary, unless, in the view of 
some of our members, the Revenue Officer considered that a 
'bond -fide question of title was involved, in which case 
the regular procedure should be followed, instead of a summary 
procedure. The Revenue Officer would pass a decree allowing 
a reasonable time for payment of the arrears. If the decree 
were not satisfied within the period stated, the holding, or 
such portion of it as was sufficient to satisfy the amount of the 
decree, would be immediately sold. We are not in favour of 
distraint, for the reasons already stated; the attachment and 
sale of movables in the case of all tenants has been forbidden 
by recent legislation; and we do not think that ejectm'ent should 
be restored. The procedure should also be made as cheap as 



171 

possible. We are not in a position to make any recommenda- 
tion regarding the scale of court-fees, but we think that there 
are grounds for assessing a lower rate for uncontested cases 
than for contested cases. 

316. Limitation. Wfe are also in favour of reducing the 
period of limitation to one year, except in cases where the 
annual rent is less than one rupee. In such cases the 
limitation should be two years. Limitation for the filing of 
execution cases should also be reduced to one year. The 
object should be to deal with applications for recovery after the 
main harvest, and to execute the decrees immediately after 
the following harvest. As regards arrear rents of more than 
one year, outstanding at the time when limitation was reduced 
to one year, we think that it would operate unfairly on the 
tenants if arrears of two or three years were to be realised at 
once by a summary procedure. Provision would have to be 
made for their payment over a period of years, which would 
vary according to the amount due, and the ability of the 
tenant to pay. 

317. Adverse possession by judgment-debtors. One of 

the suggestions made to us in evidence, to which we have 
referred in paragraph 308, is that adverse possession after the 
sale of a holding should render the judgment-debtor liable to 
prosecution for criminal trespass. In the Tenancy Act third 
amendment Bill of 1939, a provision was made that along with 
the order for delivery of possession to a decree-holder, the Court 
should issue a notice calling on the judgment-debtor to show 
cause within 15 days why an order should not issue prohibiting 
him from remaining in possession of the decretal property. 
If no cause is shown, the Court passes a prohibitory order: 
if the judgment-debtor intimates his intention of having the 
decree set aside, he is allowed ^ reasonable time to do so. 
Disobedience of the prohibitory order amounts to an offence 
under section 188 of the Penal 'Code, and the judgment-debtor 
may be prosecuted on the complaint of the Court under section 
195 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. 

It happens not infrequently in Bengal that tenants whose 
holdings have been sold up, remain, often for years, in adverse 
possession, and the decree-holders are unable for no fault on 
their part to enter into possession. In many cases, judgment- 
debtors have been recorded in the course of settlement 
operations as tenants in forcible possession of the decretal 
property; and much of the time of Criminal Courts has been 
taken up with litigation connected with such cases, in which 
it is always difficult to decide whether the complaints really 
come within the jurisdiction of the Criminal Court, or whether 



172 

they are of a civil nature and should be dismissed. It can only 
be regarded as an unsatisfactory state of affairs, in which the 
orders of any Court can be deliberately flouted. Some of our 
members are strongly of opinion that a judgment-debtor who 
does not vacate within a reasonable period, or has no reasonable 
excuse for remaining in possession of the decretal property, 
should be rendered liable to criminal prosecution. They 
recommend that the provision of clause 6 in the third amending 
Tenancy Bill of 1939 should be adopted. Other members are 
of opinion that the existing law is sufficient, by which the Civil 
Court can give actual possession, and the decree-holder can 
call in police help to obtain possession, or prosecute the 
judgment-debtor as a trespasser. 

318. Advantages of system proposed. We believe that the 
procedure which We have proposed above would be more 
expeditious than the present procedure and that the hearing 
of rent suits at convenient centres in the mufassal would be 
cheaper and more convenient both to landlords and tenants. 
Considering the difference in the level of pay of Revenue 
Officers and Munsiffs, it would be possible to appoint a 
proportionately greater number of officers for the decision of 
rent suits. It is also expected that a Revenue Officer, using 
a summary procedure, would be able to dispose of more suits 
than a Munsiff, and would have the time and opportunity to 
supervise the proper service of processes and execution of 
decrees. His functions however would not be entirely 
judicial: he might also be a useful agency for various executive 
functions. He would be constantly on tour in the area allotted 
to him, and could report to the Subdivisional Officer the 
condition of crops, any cases of levying abwabs which were 
brought to his notice, and other matters affecting the welfare 
of the tenants. 

319. Appeals. We have also considered what should be 
the appellate authority from decisions of Revenue Officers. 
In Madras, appeals from the orders of Revenue Officers in rent 
suits go to the District Courts. In the United Provinces 
appeals from Assistant Collectors of the second class, in suits 
valued at less than Rs. 200 go to the Collector. Those from 
Assistant Collectors of the first class valued at over Rs. 200 go 
to the Civil Court. In the Punjab appeals are confined^ 
entirely to the Revenue authorities, the highest being the 
Financial Commissioner, who is the equivalent of the Member, 
Board of Revenue, in Bengal. 

We think that there would be a good case for making the 
Board of Revenue the highest appellate authority if 



173 

Government were the sole landlord. Under the present system 
however, it is doubtful whether it would be advisable to remove 
the jurisdiction of the Civil Court entirely, and we would 
recommend that appeals, including motions, from the orders 
of Revenue Officers should go to a Court not below the rank 
of a Subordinate Judge. 

320. Codification of Revenue Laws. There is great need 
for the simplification and codification of the Revenue Law of 
Bengal. As pointed out by Major Jack in the Settlement 
Report of Bakarganj, there are 70 Regulations still in force, 
many of which contain much that is obsolete, in language which 
is now unintelligible 1 . In the Dacca Settlement Report 
Mr. Ascoli complained that resumption proceedings were 
initiated under Act IX of 1847, carried out under various 
isolated sections of Regulation II of 1819, Regulation XI of 
1825, Act IV of 1868 and Regulation IX of 1833 2 . There are 
only a few out of many sections in most of the Acts which are 
ever referred to at the present day. If State acquisition is 
carried out, not only the old Regulations, but many Acts, such 
as the Estates Partition Act, the Land Registration Act, and 
the Diara Acts will become practically inoperative. All the 
provisions which will remain of value should be brought 
together subject by subject in a comprehensive Revenue Code. 
Even if State acquisition is not undertaken, it would be 
desirable to consolidate the whole body of Revenue Law into 
a single Code. 



iReport, paragraph 491. 
*Report, paragraph 326. 



Main Conclusions and Recommendations. 

1. Chapter II. The majority of the Commission have 
reached the conclusion that whatever may have been the 
justification for the Permanent Settlement in 1793, it is no 
longer suitable to the conditions of the present time; and that 
the zamindari system has developed so many defects that it has 
ceased to serve any national interest. These defects are 
summarised in paragraphs 80 to 88 of the report. In the view 
of the majority the present system should be replaced by one 
which will bring the actual cultivators into the position of 
tenants holding directly under Government by acquiring the 
interests of all classes of rent receivers. (Paragraph 96.) 

A minority of the Commission dissent from this conclusion 
on the grounds stated in paragraphs 89 to 93 of the Report. 

2. Chapter 1 1 1 . Legislation should be introduced enabling 
Government to acquire the interests of all rent-receivers down 
to the actual cultivator of the soil in all revenue free, 
permanently settled and temporarily settled estates. (Para- 
graph 98.) 

Compensation should be paid at a flat rate for all interests 
(Paragraph 100). The rate of compensation which receives 
more support than any other is 10 times the net profit of the 
proprietors and tenure-holders (Paragraph 101). 

The net profit should be calculated by deducting from the 
gross assets the revenue, the share of the cess which is paid 
by the zamindars and tenure-holders, and, in the view of the 
majority, 18 per cent, on account of management, collection, 
and litigation expenses. No extra deduction for unrealis'able 
rents need be made according to the view of the majority. 
(Paragraph 123.) 

The revenue of temporarily settled private estates under 
Government management should be fixed at 70 per cent, of the 
assets before compensation is calculated. (Paragraph 108.) 

If any reduction of high contractual rents is contemplated 
by Government, it should be carried out before the net assets 
of any class of estate or tenure are calculated for assessing 
compensation. (Paragraph 130.) 

Compensation should be paid in cash if possible: otherwise 
in bonds redeemable after 60 years. Compensation amounting 



175 

to less than Rs. 500 should be paid in cash in order to avoid 
the expense to Government of keeping accounts and making 
annual payments of petty sums. (Paragraphs 102 and 138.) 

3. Waqf, debattar and other trust estates should be 
acquired. The continuance of that portion of their income 
which is devoted to religious, charitable or educaticcial objects 
must be secured by paying a higher rate of compensation in 
the shape of bonds which will ensure their existing income. ' 
The bonds issued in favour of such trusts should remain 
in Government custody, and the character and incidents of 
such trusts should apply to them. (Paragraphs 105 and 106.) 

4. The acquisition of superior interests in khas mahal 
estates should be carried out by Government at their 
convenience. It is suggested that an experiment might be 
made in Government estates where subinfeudation exists 
in order to obtain an indication of the results. (Paragraph 
109.) 

5. The acquisition of royalties from mines is recommended 
by the majority. (Paragraph 119.) 

Whether or not this recommendation is accepted, it 
is recommended by the majority that Government should 
consider the desirability of legislation declaring that all 
minerals including oil, not yet worked or discovered will vest 
in the State. (Paragraph *121.) 

6. It is recommended that all fishery rights should 
be acquired. (Paragraph 116.) 

7. The revision of the record-of -rights is an essential 
preliminary to a scheme of State acquisition. (Paragraphs 

103 and 126.) 



8. The arrear rents legally recoverable by each proprietor 
or tenure-holder should be ascertained. Fifty per cent, of the 
arrears should be added to the amount of compensation. The 
full amount of the arrear rents would be payable to the 
Government. (Paragraph 104.) 

9. The homesteads and khas lands of all rent-receivers will 
be acquired as part of their estates or tenures. The 
homesteads, and also those khas lands which they cultivate by 
servants or labourers will remain in their possession as tenants 
under Government, subject to the payment of fair rent. 
(Paragraph 110.) 



176 

10. The interests of all raiyats or under-raiyats who have 
sublet on cash rents should be acquired. The financial effect 
would depend on the decision whether the existing rents of 
under-raiyats who would become direct tenants, are maintain- 
ed, or whether they are reduced. 

The acquisition of the interests of landlords who have their 
land cultivated by bargadars should not be undertaken until 
the Tenancy Act has been modified as proposed in paragraph 
146. (Paragraph 114.) 

11. There is nothing substantial to be gained by substitut- 
ing a system of temporary settlements for the permanent 
settlement. (Paragraph 132.) 

12. The imposition of an agricultural income tax is 
recommended as a transitional measure until the scheme of 
State acquisition is effected, in preference to an agricultural 
or other cess. The tax should be applied solely for the 
improvement of agriculture. (Paragraph 137.) 

13. Chapter IV. Further acquisition proceedings will be 
necessary at intervals of 30 or 40 years, unless means can be 
found of keeping the present cultivators permanently in 
possession of their lands by controlling subletting and transfers. 
(Paragraph 139.) 

A complete veto on subletting in any form, including the 
barga system, is recommended subject to the exceptions 
mentioned. In that case it will not be necessary to forbid 
transfers to non-agriculturists, a class which it is too difficult 
to define in legal language. (Paragraphs 147 and 148.) 

Until a scheme of State acquisition comes into force the 
rent of an under-raiyat should in future be not more than one- 
third in excess of the average rent of his immediate landlord. 
(Paragraph 149.) 

14. The accumulation of large quantities of land in one 
hand is undesirable, except for scientific large scale farming. 
Transfer might be restricted to families owning less than 20 
acres. (Paragraph 152.) 

15. The provision of Sir John Kerr's Bill should be 
restored by which it was proposed to treat as tenants 
bargadars who supply the plough, cattle, and agricultural 
implements. The share of the crop legally recoverable from 
all bargadars should be limited to one-third. (Paragraph 146.) 



177 

16. Chapter V. Experiments should be made in selected 
areas to consolidate holdings. (Paragraph 157.) 

17. The pressure of population on the land and the large 
proportion of cultivators who do not possess an economic 
holding are the chief reasons of the poor condition of 
the agricultural classes (Paragraphs 153 to 156). Jn view of 
the difficulty of extending to any appreciable extent the area 
available for cultivation, it is of primary importance to increase 
the total agricultural output, especially the yield of the main 
crop rice. This should be done by intensive propaganda on 
the part of the Agricultural Department, and extended use of 
improved seeds and fertilisers (Paragraphs 205 and 206). 

18. The possibility of extending the cultivation of valuable 
crops such as betel, sugarcane, tobacco, condiments and 
vegetables should be examined. More attention should be paid 
to the cultivation of orchards and bamboo groves. (Paragraph 
215.) 

19. The twice-cropped area could be considerably increased 
if the cultivators were encouraged to irrigate their lands from 
rivers, bils, tanks, or wells. Small irrigation schemes 
are strongly recommended. Experiments should be made with 
cheap portable pumps. (Paragraph 213.) 

The methods of cultivating rabi crops are capable of great 
improvement. (Paragraph 214.) 

20. The cultivation of napier grass and other fodder crops 
should be encouraged and extended. (Paragraph 239.) 

21. In order to improve the breed of cattle and the milk 
supply, the supply of stud bulls should be extended. 
The veterinary staff should be given a thorough training in 
animal husbandry. The grouping of stud bulls requires careful 
attention in order to ensure the success of a cattle improvement 
scheme. (Paragraph 238.) 

22. The improvement of poultry farming and the 
possibility of developing subsidiary industries based on milk, 
such as the production of ghee and chhana, require examina- 
tion . ( Paragraph 236 . ) 

23. The irrigation problems of Bengal and the deteriora- 
tion of the rivers should be examined by a,n expert Committee, 
as recommended by the Royal Commission on Agriculture. 
(Paragraph 216.) 

13 



178 

24. The difficulties which have been encountered in 
connection with some of the major irrigation schemes 
of Bengal should not deter Government from embarking on 
further schemes under the Bengal Development Act. 
(Paragraph 217.) 

25. The budget provision of the Agricultural Department 
should gradually be increased, and the training of additional 
staff should be taken up as early as possible. (Paragraph 207.) 

26. The establishment of Union farms should be extended 
and crops grown on the tenants' land under the supervision 
of the Agricultural Department. (Paragraph 209.) 

27. In order to provide continuous employment in rural 
areas, and to relieve the pressure of population on the land, 
the development of factories in rural areas and cottage 
industries offers the best possibilities. Government would 
have to take the initiative in any scheme of development. 
(Paragraph 226.) 

28. The silk and lac industries should be put on a sound 
commercial basis. (Paragraph 233.) 

29. The development of cottage industries is of primary 
importance: paddy husking which is fast disappearing from 
many of the villages should be revived. Government should 
consider the desirability of restricting by legislation the 
establishment of rice mills. (Paragraph 234.) 

30. It is desirable to keep in touch with industrial 
developments in other provinces and to send an officer to 
examine developments which have taken place or are under 
the contemplation of other Provincial Governments. (Para- 
graph 240.) 

31. Chapter VI. Generally speaking the rents in Bengal 
are lump rents, bearing little relation to the actual value of the 
produce (Paragraph 261). The system of assessing rent in 
other provinces are not completely satisfactory. The principle 
of the present Tenancy Act that the existing rents should be 
presumed to be fair and equitable until the contrary is proved 
has many advantages (Paragraph 262). 

32. It would be a mistake, especially if the Government 
becomes the sole landlord, to adopt the principle that the 
present rents should remain fixed for ever. (Paragraph 277.) 

There is no strong case at present for a general revision 
of the existing rents in Bengal, in the view of the majority, 



179 

there is no justification for enhancing rents, so long as the 
present land revenue system remains (Paragraph 276). In 
some areas it may be necessary for Government to undertake 
settlement operations under section 112 of the Tenancy Act 
with the object of reducing excessive rents (Paragraph 265). 

33. Revisional settlement operations are desirable in 
permanently settled estates, no less than in khas ijiahals and 
temporarily settled estates (Paragraph 263). The period of 
such settlements should be 30 years, according to the majority 
(Paragraph 275). 

34. The modifications which are recommended in the 
existing law for enhancement and reduction of rent are: 

(i) The principle of enhancing rents on the ground of 
prevailing rates should also be made applicable 
for reducing isolated cases of excessively high rents. 
The ground of prevailing rates should be used for 
enhancing rents which are substantially below the 
general level for no sound reason. (Paragraph 
265.) 

(ii) The ground of enhancement for a rise of prices should 
also remain. But the Court should have discretion 
to take the prices of any period however short, 
which it thinks equitable. (Paragraph 267.) 

In all cases regard should be had to the provision in 
section 35 that no rent must be enhanced under any 
section to an extent which makes it unfair. 
(Paragraphs 267 and 268.) 

(Hi) Owing to the delay and expense of Civil Court 
procedure, tenants who might be entitled to a 
reduction of rent on account of the fall in prices 
during the last 10 years have made no use of section 
38. We recommend that facilities should be given 
for reduction of rent on this ground through the 
agency of Revenue Officers. Section 38 of the 
Tenancy Act should be amended to empower them 
to deal with such cases in areas to be notified by 
Government. (Paragraph 269.) 

35. Chapter VII. Some members recommend the 
restoration of the provision proposed by Sir John Kerr's 
Committee that common agents should be appointed in 'all 
estates, tenures, and groups of tenures, with powers to collect 
rent, issue rent receipts, and accept notices of transfer. Others 



180 

would amend section 99A of the Tenancy Act to allow the 
Collector to appoint common agents on the application of the 
landlords, or of half the tenants, or of his own motion. 
(Paragraph 280.) 

36. Whether or not a scheme of State acquisition is 
adopted, the maintenance of the record-of-rights is strongly 
recommended. The possibility of maintaining records through 
the agency of a settlement staff attached to each Sub-Registry 
office should be examined. (Paragraph 282.) 

37. Some system of short term credit is necessary for 
cultivators. Their credit facilities must be increased. 
(Paragraph 278.) 

The following recommendations are made to the Co- 
operative Credit Department: 

(i) The co-operative movement should be extended as 
rapidly as is consistent with sound organisation and 
good management, and the supervising staff should 
be strengthened. (Paragraph 299.) 

(ii) The amount of loans given to members of co-operative 
societies should be strictly controlled. More regard 
should be paid to their income and capacity for 
repayment annually, than to the value of their 
property. (Paragraph 299.) 

(Hi) All loans should be restricted to productive purposes 
and should ordinarily be for small amounts. 
(Paragraph 299.) 

(iv) Audit should be separated from supervision. 
(Paragraph 293.) 

38. Government should grant agricultural loans on a more 
liberal scale under the present system rather than establish 
Government-owned Agricultural Banks. (Paragraph 298.) 

39. In the awards of Debt Settlement Boards priority 
should be given to arrear rents. (Paragraph 295.) 

40. The development of marketing on the lines of the policy 
adopted by the Madras Government is recommended. 
(Paragraph 299.) 

41. The possibility of training inspecting officers of various 
departments in several branches of work and entrusting to them 
the work of various departments in smaller areas should be 
examined. (Paragraph 299.) 



181 

42. Chapter VIM. Whether or not a scheme of State 
acquisition is put into operation, it is recommended that the 
jurisdiction over rent suits should vest in Revenue Officers with 
legal training instead of the Civil Courts. (Paragraph 314.) 

43. Sale of holdings is the least harsh method of realising 
arrears of rent and is preferred to sale of movables, ejectment, 
or distraint. (Paragraph 315.) 

44. The procedure for the trial of rent suits should be as 
cheap as possible. The question of assessing a lower rate of 
fees for uncontested cases than for contested cases should be 
considered. (Paragraph 315.) 

45. The period of limitation of 3 years in Schedule III of 
the Tenancy Act should be reduced to one year except where 
the annual rent is less than Re. 1. In such cases the period 
should be two years. (Paragraph 316.) 

46. Limitation for the filing of execution cases should also 
be reduced to one year. The object should be to deal with 
applications for recovery after the main harvest and to execute 
the decrees immediately after the following harvest. 
(Paragraph 316.) 

47. In the view of some members, judgment-debtors who 
remain in adverse possession after being given a reasonable time 
to vacate, or who have no reasonable excuse for remaining in 
possession of decretal property should be liable to prosecution 
under section 188 of the Penal Code. Others consider that the 
existing law is sufficient, by which possession can be obtained 
with police help, or the judgment-debtor can be prosecuted as 
a trespasser. (Paragraph 317.) 

48. Rents outstanding for two or three years at the time 
when this procedure was put into operation should be realised 
over a period of years, varying according to the amount due, 
and the ability of the tenants to pay. (Paragraph 316.) 

49. The payment of rent by money order should continue 
to be optional; but if landlords refuse to accept money orders, 

the penalty prescribed in section 64A of the Tenancy Act 
should be made more stringent. Postal receipts for money 
orders should be accepted by the Courts as conclusive evidence 
of remittance. Deposits of rent in Court should be permitted 
without requiring identification of the tenant. (Paragraph 
313.) b * 



182 

50. Appeals from the order of Revenue Officers should go 
to a Court not below the rank of a Subordinate Judge. 
(Paragraph 319.) 

61. General recommendations. There should be more co- 
ordination f between the representatives of the different 
departments of Government, both at headquarters and in the 
districts. There is not sufficient co-ordination between the 
Director of Land Eecords and the Agricultural Department 
in the preparation of agricultural statistics. The areas found 
under each crop at a district or revisional settlement are not 
reported to the Agricultural Department as they are available. 
The results of crop-cutting experiments made by Settlement 
Officers are not incorporated in the quinquennial crop-cutting 
reports. (Paragraph 161.) 

52. Revenue Officers in charge of rent suits should be in 
charge of as many other administrative functions as possible. 
(Paragraph 318.) 

53. The revenue laws should be codified. (Paragraph 
320.) 

(Signed) F. L. C. FLOUD. 

(Signed) *B. C. MAHTAB, Maharaja of Burdwan. 

(Signed) *M. 0. CARTER. 

(Signed) *SAIYED MUAZZAMUDDIN HOSAIN. 

(Signed) HASHEM ALI KHAN. 

(Signed) M. A. MOMIN. 

(Signed) *RADHA KUMUD MOOKERJI. 

(Signed) *BROJENDRA KISHORE ROY CHOWDHURY. 

(Signed) *F. A. SACHSE. 

(Signed) ABUL QUASEM. 

(Signed) NURUDDIN AHMED. 

(Signed) ANUKUL CHANDRA DAS. 

Dated the 21st March, 1940. 

*Signed subject to minutes of dissent appended. 



Note of Dissent 

By 

Sir Bijay Chand Mahtab, G.C.I.E., K.C.S.I., I.O.M., 

Maharajadhiraja Bahadur of Burdwan, 

and 

Mr, Brajendra Kishore Roy Chowdhury, 

Members, Bengal Land Revenue Commission. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS. 

Introductory. 

Para. 

1. Observations on the personnel. 

2. Nature of the main Report. 

3. The need for Note of Dissent. 

4. Scope of the Note of Dissent. 

Chapter I. 

THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND. 

5. Historical diversities. 

6. Peculiarities of Bengal. 

7. Germs of Landlordism in Bengal. 

8. Concept of zamindary right. 

9. Zamindars prevailed in Bengal. 

10. Revenue and rent. 

11. "Ownership" of cultivators. 

12. Muhammadan conquest of Bengal. 

13. The zamindari system undisturbed. 

14. The zamindaii system preferred. 
J5. Peasants during the Moghul period. 

16. Nankar for dispossessed zamindars. 

Chapter II. 

THE PERMANENT SETTLEMENT. 

17. Settlement with actual proprietors. 

18. Relevant sections of Regulation VIII of 1793. 

19. Proprietorship, Limited versus Absolute. 

20 . " Ownership ' ' of land explained . 
2L Rule of construction . 



186 

PABA. 

22. The ten per cent, for landlords 

(a) The Bengal Special Orders. 

(b) The Bihar Orders. 

(&j The Midnapore Orders. 

(d) The standard of assessment enhanced. 

(e) Cossim All's assessment. 

(/) Assessment and collections. 

(g) Shore's calculations. 

(h) Grant's calculations. 

(i) Increase of assessment per every settlement. 

(j) Computation of raiyati assets. 

23. Advance Assessment. 

24. No case for temporary settlement. 

25. Shore's plan of settlement. 

26. The Protection Clause analysed. 

27. Expectations of the settlement. 

28. Enhancement of rent. 

29. So-called defects of the Settlement. 

30. Extension of cultivation by landlords. 

31. Subinfeudation among landlords. 

32. Subinfeudation among raiyats. 

33. The Permanent Settlement misjudged 

(1) "Inelasticity" of revenue. 

(2) The benefit of higher prices. 

(3) Non -agricultural income. 

(4) Revenue from litigation. 

34. Manifold advantages. 

Chapter III. 

ACQUISITION OF ZAMINDABIES AND TENURES. 

35. The constitutional position. 

36. Need for protection of property. 

37. Need of public support. 



38 . " Minority community. ' ' 



187 



FABA. 

39. Acquisition of zamindaries 

(1) Bengal raiyats better situated. 

(2) Khas mahal areas of Bengal. 

(3) Financial implications. 

(4) Doubtful prospect of gain, 

(5) The economic effect. 

(6) Extent of expropriation. 

(7) The number of persons to be expropriated. 

(8) Repercussions on society. 

(9) The political effect. 

(10) Findings militate against proposal. 

40. Evidence against State-purchase 

(a) Evidence of the Finance Department. 
(6) Khan Bahadur A. Rahman. 

(c) Mr. W. H. Nelson. 

(d) Mr. F. W. Robertson. 

(e) Mr. A, E. Porter. 
(/) Mr. M. M. Stuait. 

(g) Majority of opinions against State -purchase. 

41. State-purchase hazardous 

(a) Financial strength of Province. 

(6) Taxation Enquiry Committee's findings. 

(c) Government management unpopular. 

(d) Certainty of land revenue disturbed. 

(e) Extinction of Middle Classes. 

42. General observations. 

43. Principles of compensation followed 

(a) Professor Pigou's principles. 

(6) Principles advocated by the Finance Department. 

(c) Majority opinions rejected. 

44. Inadequate compensation 

(a) Professor Sidgwick's Principles. 
(6) Accepted principle of compensation, 
(c) Examples from gross and net income. 

45. Example of Ireland. 

46. Confiscatory nature of the scheme. 

47. Suggested lines of nationalisation. 



188 

PARA. 

48. Fishery and Mineral Rights 

(a) The Coal Mining Committee's Recommendation. 

(b) Difficulties of the scheme. 

(c^ Analogy of England not suitable. 

49. Conclusion. 

Chapter IV. 

TAXATION OF AGRICULTURAL, INCOME. 

50. Implications of income-tax on agriculture 

(1) "Agriculture" not defined. 

(2) Certain industries affected. 

(3) Discriminating taxation. 

(4) Constitutional questions involved. 

51. Paying capacity of landlords. 

52. Dispersion of incomes. 

53. Principles of taxation of agricultural income. 

54. Difficulties of Bengal Landlords. 

55. Grounds of opposition . 

56. Lines of taxation indicated . 

57. Agricultural cess 

(1) Objection against agricultural^cess. 

(2) Principles of local taxation. 

Chapter V. 

TENANCY LEGISLATION 

58. Rent Act of 1859. 

59. Transferability. 

60. Subinfeudation recognised. 

61. Evils of subletting. 

62. Criticisms of Tenancy Acts. 

63. Responsibilities of Tenancy Legislation. 

64. Interests of agriculture neglected. 

65. The Barga System. * 



189 

PARA. 

66. Recommendations regarding bargadars 

(a) Bargadars need not be tenants. 
(6) The half-and-half system popular, 

67. Objects of Tenancy Reform. 

68. Suggested lines of reform 

(1) "Landlord" and "Tenant". 

(2) Rents in Bengal, 

(3) Fixity of rent. 

(4) Acquisition of lands for improvements. 

(5) "Raiyatiland." 

(6) Economic holding. 

(7) Realisation of rents. 

(8) No-rent mentality to be guarded against. 

Chapter VI. 

ECONOMIC CONDITIONS m BENGAL. 

69. Causes of agricultural decline. 

70. Condition of Bengal cultivators. 

7 1 . Impoverishment of Bengal. 

72. No agricultural policy planned. 

73. Criticisms. 

74. Constructive schemes suggested 

(1) Central Development Board. 

(2) Improvement of the human unit. 

(3) How to improve the credit system. 

(4) Marketing scheme. 

(5) Fertility of land. 

(6) Resuscitation of rivers. 

(7) Economic size of holding to be maintained. 

(8) Subsidiary occupations. 

MAIN CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 



NOTE OF DISSENT. 

Introductory. 

1. Observation on the personnel. The Bengal Land 
Revenue Commission was brought into being to examine the 
complicated land problems of Bengal and to suggest remedies 
for their solution within the given terms of reference. We 
note that since the Permanent Settlement there has been no 
Commission of Enquiry with such wide terms of reference. 
The questions placed in front of them were so grave and vital 
for the country that the Commission ought to have been 
constituted of revenue experts, experienced judicial officers, 
economists and statisticians who would have been qualified 
by their specialised knowledge to discuss impartially the 
problems in all their complications. The Commission, as 
appointed, included however, revenue experts, historians and 
judicial officers, but the absence of economists and statisticians 
was keenly felt. It was, indeed, a matter of regret that the 
Commission could not get the benefit of the services of two of 
the judicial experts, Sir Manmatha Nath Mookerjee and 
Mr. S. N. Mashi, Barrister-at-Law, who were appointed 
members thereof. However, with the remaining members of 
the Commission the work was being carried on as efficiently 
as possible. But without improving the composition of the 
Commission in any way, it was practically at the discussion 
stage of the Report and Recommendations that, on the 17th 
of November 1939, three additional members were appointed 
by Government. It was quite clear that these appointments 
were primarily made on political grounds resulting in an undue 
weightage which was, to a great extent, responsible for the 
so-called Majority Report. Without any knowledge as to 
what these gentlemen were like or without casting any reflection 
on any of them we had to record our protest on principle, in 
which we may say without fear of contradiction the Commission 
as a body were united. 

2. Nature of the main Report. What has struck us most 
forcibly is the absence of emphasis in the main Report on the 
evidence placed by different persons and organisations whose 
written memoranda and oral evidence have been of great value. 
The Commission devoted a considerable portion of their time 



192 

to recording written and oral representations, but in the course 
of discussions, it was found that the members relied more upon 
personal convictions and preconceived notions rather than on 
the evidence before them. In consequence, it seems that the 
Commission's elaborate procedure of receiving memoranda and 
recording evidence was a sheer waste. Important decisions 
were taken by the weight of votes without reference to the 
evidence collated and placed before us; definite historical 
statements were made in defence of a particular line of 
reasoning without giving due importance to all the points of 
view. All this has been very unfortunate, especially when it 
was expected of the Commission to consider the problems 
without bias and suggest remedies without favour in the 
collective interest of the country. 

3. The need for Note of Dissent. Whilst we do not wish 
to cast aspersions on any of our colleagues, we cannot help 
feeling strongly that the decisions and recommendations, 
embodied in the main Report, have not received the imprimatur 
of a dispassionate study of the problems. We submit that in 
the Report history has been read and facts interpreted in a 
particular way to establish certain postulates which are highly 
of a controversial character and of doubtful validity. 
Moreover, in many matters the accepted Indian interpretations 
have been ignored and different meanings put forth without 
reference to Indian contexts. This has necessitated the writing 
out of a Note of Dissent by us. 

4. Scope of the Note of Dissent. In this Note, we do not 
propose to advocate a given set of conclusions issuing out of 
a priori convictions; we have also no desire to present what is 
called "the other side of the picture". Herein, we shall try 
to read history in the light of established facts on the main 
points touched on in the Report and make our submissions on 
the recommendations which we deern unwholesome for the 
given basis of society and class relations. We are not writing 
this Report mainly as landlords, although we belong to the 
order of zamindars; we are primarily basing our observations 
and recommendations on the facts brought to light in the 
course of investigations and on the evidence placed before us 
by competent persons, Government experts and recognised 
Associations of the Province. In our search for remedies we 
have not hesitated in subordinating our personal predilections 
in the ultimate interest of the country as a whole. 



CHAPTER I. 

The Historical Background. 

5. Historical diversities. The tenure of land in India is 
a subject of considerable difficulty which is traceable to the 
fact that "sufficient account is not taken of the diverse 
circumstances of the different parts of the country". Facts 
which are true of particular tracts cannot be applied to all 
parts of the country 1 . This has been responsible for giving 
rise to earnest discussions about the property in the soil, 
"conducted not without a degree of asperity by persons holding 
different, and sometimes contrary, opinions, each of whom 
produced probable arguments in support of the correctness of 
his particular views". If this is recognised, as it has not 
been done in the Eeport, it will be found that the conflicting 
views on the relative position and rights of zamindars and 
raiyats can be reduced to a minimum. 

6. Peculiarities of Bengal. Bengal, it should be 
remembered, developed on her own peculiar lines. 
Observations applicable to other parts of India cannot be 
applicable to Bengal proper. k '0ur mistake arises from 
customs or beliefs of particular parts being falsely predicated 
of the whole, and from isolated facts being magnified into 
general conclusions/' In what was called Bengal proper in 
the early period, the village tenure was of comparatively little 
importance; it had become overshadowed by the tenure of great 
landlords 2 . In the references in the Sena records (the Sena 
dynasty rising in power in Bengal in the early part of the 
twelfth century), there is a remarkable testimony to the 
wholesale substitution of cash assessments for the payments in 
kind prevailing in other parts of Northern India 3 , 'it should 
also be remembered that the Muhammadan conquest of lower 
Bengal was never perfectly accomplished and many of its 
princes were tributaries rather than subjects. These distinctive 
features of Bengal which followed her in the growth of land 
tenure can hardly be ignored, and the contentions applicable 

iElphinstone's History of India, page 73. To quote Sir Henry Maine, "no general 
assertions are likely to be true without large qualifications of a country so vast as India." 
Baden Powell's Land Systems of British India, Volume I, page 177. 
*Dr. U. N. Ghoshal's the Agrarian System in Ancient India, page 72. 

14 



194 

to other parts of India should not be given undue importance 
in the evaluation of the land system of the Province. 

7. Germs of Landlordism in Bengal. The private property 
right in soil in ancient Bengal naturally culminated in 
zamindari right, and the references to the "gramapati" (the 
village headman) and the "kshetrapati" (the lord of the fields^ 
and to "dasagramika" (the officer in charge of 10 villages) 
which were found in the Pala records 1 contained also the germs 
of landlordism in Bengal. The growth of zamindars in the 
Bengal soil was so natural and quick that Shore had to admit 
in his Minutes (2nd April 1788, and 18th June 1789) that in 
Akbar's time the zamindars of Bengal were numerous, rich 
and powerful, and that they were not of his creation and 
probably existed with some possible variation in their rights 
and privileges before the Muhammad an conquest in 
Hindusthan. But unfortunately the Report has tried to give 
a different connotation of zamindari right, and accordingly its 
growth and importance did not receive adequate recognition. 

8. Concept of zamindari right. In explaining the concept 
of zamindari right, the Report states 

"It became a recognised tribute of the ruling power that 
as a matter of custom it had the combined right to 
the share of the produce, the right to the waste arid 
the right to transit duties. This aggregate of rights 
from very early Muhammadan time was spoken of as 
the zamindari." (Paragraph 20.) 

The King's right to the share of the produce, the right 
to the waste and the right to transit duties were connected 
with his sovereign authority and not with his proprietary 
right, and "whoever possessed a tract of land for which he 
paid revenue was, literally speaking, a zamindar 2 ." By 

Curing the period from the end of the eighth to that of the eleventh century, Bengal 
was ruled for the most part by Kings of the famous Pala dynasty, while towards its close 
minor dynasties such as the Chandras and the Varmans shared the possession of the country 
with the Palas. 

*The literal meaning of "zamindar" is possessor or proprietor of land but by its general 
accepted meaning it implies a proprietor of land who pays rent to the Emperor or any other 
ruler and is equally applicable to every landholder, whether possessing a greater or a 
less number of villages, or only a portion of a village. This word is of Persian origin and it 
is most probable that the Persians, whtn they originally invaded Hindusthan and assumed 
the reins of Empire, introduced tl e trim zemindar and applied it to the deposed Rajas 
from whom they exacted revenue. (Vide answers to questions 1 and 56 by Oholam Hosein 
Khan, an esteemed historian, whoso evidence was greatly relied on by Shore in his Minute 
of 2nd April 1788.) A zamindar is a person possessing hereditarily on the condition of 
obedience to the ordinances of Government a tract of land under the denomination of a 
pergunnah or chucklah, subject to the payment of revenue; and a zamindari is that land 
registered in the records of Government in the name of such person. (Vide answers of 
the Roy royan, Appendix XVII to Shore's Minute of 2nd April 1788.) 



195 



it 



zamindar" and ' 'zamindari'', the "old state right of 
zamindari", as contended in the Report, had never been meant. 
Zamindar means a possessor or proprietor of land, and the 
proprietorship of land, may be obtained by purchase, gift or by 
inheritance. In the circumstances, it cannot be maintained 
that "the old state right of zamindari had been magnified into 
a general superior ownership of the entire domain". 
(Paragraph 20.) 

9. Zamindars prevailed in Bengal. In this background 
of historical facts, the Hindu and Muhammadan systems of 
land tenure should be studied, and it shall have to be understood 
to what extent they are applicable to Bengal proper. The 
Report admits and agrees with the Indian Taxation Enquiry 
Committee (1924-25) that in India the Hindu Kings or 
Muhammadan Emperors did not claim greater interest in land 
than a certain portion of the produce 1 , and as such the growth 
of zamindari right in Bengal cannot be held by them as a 
usurpation; it acquired stability by prescription, as Shore 
pointed out. This peculiarity of Bengal was emphasised by 
Phillips who maintained that "zamindars prevailed chiefly in 
Bengal 2 ." 

10. Revenue and rent. It is true that there was no 
es'sential difference between "land revenue" and "rent" 
(Paragraph 14) in Hindu and Muhammadan times. But 
since the Permanent Settlement of 1793, the connotations of 
"revenue" and "rent" became distinct. Revenue became the 
share which the State as suzerain power received into its own 
exchequer from the proprietor-zamindars. The share which 
the State as landlord received into its own exchequer from 
tenants is not revenue but rent. Under the Bengal Tenancy 
Act, Government is a landlord with respect to the khas mahals 
and, the amount payable to the State by a khas mahal tenant 
is rent 3 . This being so, the contention made in the Report 
that "technically, revenue is the share which the State receives 
into its own exchequer, whether from the tenant's holding 
directly under the Government, or in lump sum from the 

1( The proprietary right of the Sovereign derives no warrant from the ancient laws or 
institutions of Hindus and is not recognised by modern Hindu lawyers as exclusive or 
incompatible with individual ownership. Professor H. H. Wilson after careful 
consideration supports this point of view and it is mentioned with approval in the 
Bombay High Court judgment in a case from Kanara in 1875. This is referred to by the 
Indian Taxation Fnquiry Committee. 

"Land Tenures of Lower Bengal" (Tagore Law Lectures, 1874-75) pages 108-9. 
Justice Field points out that the Bengal zamindars were different from the village zamindars 
of the village community (Landholdmg, page 512). They were of a superior kind. 

'Justice Sarada Charan Mitter's "Land Law of Bengal, Behar and Orissa' 1 (pagp 190). 



196 

zamindars or landlords to whom has been conceded the right 
to collect it from the actual cultivators" (Paragraph 14) is 
not tenable in respect of conditions obtaining in Bengal. 

11. "Ownership" of cultivators. The ownership of the 
occupier which has been emphasised in the Report must be 
understood with reference to its contents. 

The Report states 

"In Bengal proper the land belonged without dispute to 
the original cultivators." (Paragraph 19.) 

In the early Hindu period the emphasis was laid on 
reclamation. The first tiller became the owner in the sense 
that he had the necessary right for the purpose of cultivation. 
Manu who laid down the theory of "ownership" for the tiller 
of land also referred to the obligations of the cultivator. "The 
right was not to the soil but to the usufruct 1 ." The cultivators 
could hold on and occupy lands for the purpose of 
cultivation as will be clear from the directions of Narada, 
Vyasa, Yajnavalkya and other Indian sages. 

The extent of the "proprietary right" of the cultivator, as 
recognised by the Hindu Law and custom, did not go beyond 
"the ordinary use of land except for the purpose of 
cultivation 2 ." Accordingly, the analogy of "bone right", 
residing in the raiyat, does not contemplate investing him with 
"claiming interests in land as to anything beyond the right 
to cultivate and to occupy for that purpose". 

12. Muhammadan conquest of Bengal. The Muhammadan 
conquest of India was a political one, and so far as the land 
revenue system was concerned it was "interfered with as little 
as possible" (Paragraph 21). During Muhammadan times 
an Indian peasant might find himself under a master of one 
of five different classes : a farmer of the revenue, a salaried 
official, a jagirdar in temporary possession, a private person 
or corporation with a longer and possibly a permanent tenure 
or finally, a zamindar. Bengal was peculiarly situate; she was 
imperfectly conquered. There were twelve traditional Bhuyans 
who held great sway. There were also half -subdued chiefs, 

Wide Justice Sarada Charan Hitter's "The Land Law of Bengal", page 5. The 
authorities of other Indian sages are discussed by the author. 

2 "When we find that the occupant was bound by custom as well as by law to cultivate, 
and to cultivate in the customary manner, we are forced to conclude that the only purpose 
for which the soil could have been considered of value was for the purpose of cultivation 

Beyond the produce no value in the land, and consequently no rights in the 

land appear to have been contemplated in Hindu Times." (Phillips* Land Tenures of 
Lower Bengal, pages 222-23.) 



sometimes of ancient standing, "who had not been brought 
under the administrative system of Moghul Government in 
Bengal, such as the Rajas of Tippera, Cooch Behar and Assam. 
There were others too powerful to be controlled and who had 
been exempted from full subjection like the frontier Rajas of 
Birbhum and Bishnupur, or who won for themselves a partial 
and intermittent exemption by armed resistance, like the Raja 
of Burdwan in the heart of the Province, and many smaller 
zamindars in its outlying and frontier districts 1 ." 

13. The zamindari system undisturbed. By Akbar's time, 
Bengal was a land of zamindars who were ''ancient, rich and 
powerful". Todar Mall did not introduce the system in Bengal 
usually associated with his name. The outlying provinces, 
Bengal, Berar, Khandesh and Sind, were left under the system 
prevailing at the time of their conquest 2 . It is to be noted 
that "the part of Bengal which passed under the Company's 
administration by the Diwani grant of 1765 had never been 
subject to the revenue system of the Moghul Empire". "Great 
Hindu landholders held estates which were, in fact, 
principalities, and their allegiance to a Moslem Ruler, like his 
to a Sultan of Delhi, depended on the ruler's personality 5 ." 
The important Bengal zamindars had double title, by sanad 
and custom. By sanad they agreed to pay the revenue specified, 
and by custom they occupied "the position of hereditary 
territorial magnates". This "double title" explains, to quote 
Sir William Hunter, c the anomalies so puzzling to British 
legislators in the last century, and which lies at the root of 
much debate in the law courts of Bengal". 

14. The zamindari system preferred. Mr. Moreland points 
out that the zamindari system which was prevalent in Bengal 
(luring Muhammadan times was the best of all arrangements. 
"It appears to be probable that those peasants were best off 

l Vide Sir William Hunter's Bengal Records, Volume I, page 33. 

2 Moreland's "Akbar to Aurangzeb," page 247. "In the northern plains from Multan 
to Bihar, as well as in large parts of Rajputana, Malwa, and Gujrat, the revenue was 
assessed on the special system mdentified with the names of Akbar and Todar Mai, and 
known technically as Zabit." Accordingly, the description of Todar Mai's system has no 
relevancy in appreciating the system prevailing in Bengal proper. Sir William Hunter 
points out that Bengal was "imperfectly conquered by the early Delhi power in 
1203" and "its Governors threw off the northern yoke in 1340. During the next 
two hundred years Lower Bengal was ruled by a succession of twenty independent 
kings, who relied to some extent on the local rajas and zamindars to maintain them against 
external attack or recon quest. After its conquest by Akbar in 1576, it became an outlying 
province of the Moghul Empire, into which even the great Sovereign did not find it possible 
to carry out his detailed revenue settlement. Every territorial magnate became as inde- 
pendent as he could and every important zamindar tried to set up a territorial magnate.'* 
(Bengal Records, page 34.) 

*Vide Cambridge Shorter History of India. 



198 

who held land from a zamindar of an old-established family. 
It must not be inferred that the life of such peasants was idyllic, 
but such evidence as that of Bernier 1 indicates that the average 
of oppression was lower under zamindars than under either 
officials or assignees/ 3 

15. Peasants during the Moghul period. Itis very difficult 
to concur with the statement that "the position of the 
cultivators during the Moghul time was substantially the same 
as in the Hindu period". (Paragraph 26.) It is evident that 
the statement was made in respect of Indian peasants. The 
change in the ordinary peasant's position may be stated in the 
following terms 2 : 

(1) His liability has risen from one-sixth to one-third and 

from one-third to one-half of his gross produce. 

(2) He might be required to pay at this rate for more 

land than he could cultivate effectively, so that he 
would actually pay more than half his produce. 

(3) He might have to contribute to the revenue of the 

more influential men, who distributed the burden 
on the village among the individual peasants. 

(4) The probability of additional levies was substantially 

increased by the administrative changes. 

16. Nankar for dispossessed zamindars. It may be pointed 
out that Murshid Kuli Khan's "removal of zamindars" for 
increased revenue did not interfere with the proprietary right 
of zamindars because (1) there was no attempt to annul the 
zamindar J s right of inheritance, (2) the dispossessed zamindars 
were given nankar which served as a token of their proprietary 
right. Moreover, Murshid Kuli Khan considered zamindars 
to have a property in the soil, and with a view to provide for 
his grandson Serfraz Khan, purchased the zamindari of the 
town of Murshidabad and Kismut Chunacolly from Mahomed 

14 Thus it happens that many of the peasantry, driven to despair by so execrable a 
tyranny, abandon the country, and seek a more tolerable mode of existence, either in the 
towns or camps. Sometimes they fly to the territories of a Raja, because there they find 
less oppression, and are allowed a greater degree of comfort." Bernier 's Letter to Colbert 
whicli was based 011 his experiences about the year 1656. Thus the tyranny of peasants 
prevalent in other parts of India was not, on the whole, applicable to Bengal. 

a Moreland observes that in order to realise the deterioration in the position of the 
ordinary peasant, it is necessary to bear in mind that the revenue, though it was assessed 
on the gross produce, had in fact to be paid out of the net income. Under Akbar's 
Regulations, the distribution of the gross produce of the soil was nearly one -half for 
necessary expenses, one -third for the State, and a margin of one-sixth or a little more 
for the peasants' comforts and luxuries or for unfavourable 'seasons, under Shahjahan, 
nearly one-half was for necessaries, one-half, or more, for the State arid intermediate 
claimants and practically nothing was loft at the disposal of the peasant. Vide Moreland's 
"India at the Death of Akbar" and "From Akbar to Aurangzeb." 



199 

Aman, the talukdar, with the produce of his jagir and named 
it Assudnugar and had it enrolled in the royal registers and 
those of the kanungoes 1 . Therefore, the contention made in 
the Keport that the attempts of Murshid Kuli Khan had 
anything to ignore the proprietary rights of zamindars is not 
true, nor is it true to say with reference to the quinquennial 
settlement of 1772 that "for the second time, the claims of the 
zamindars were completely ignored' '. (Paragraph 31.) It 
should be noted that under the quinquennial settlement of 
Warren Hastings, the older zamindars were not replaced by 
other farmers except in cases where they refused to contract 
for the sums demanded, and that the zamindars who refused to 
accept the high terms offered were given a subsistence 
allowance 2 . 

l Vide Shore's Minute, 2nd April 1788, and the Appendix Nos. 8 and 14. Sir William 
Hunter in full agreement with Shore's point of view states that "a zamindari estate was 
de facto so important a possession that even Murshid Kuli Khan, the despotic Viceroy of 
Bengal from 1704 to 1726 deemed it wise to acquire one as a provision for his family." 

2 This has been accepted by all distinguished authorities such as Baden -Powell, Sir 
William Hunter, Indian Taxation Enquiry Committee and others. The impression which 
is shared in the Report that settlements were made by auction to the highest bidders 
without reference to the zamindars and in supersession of their rights has hardly any 
historical basis. The allowance cannot but be a token of the recognition of the proprie- 
tary right of zamindars. 



CHAPTER II. 

The Permanent Settlement. 

17. Settlement with actual proprietors. The Report states 
in paragraph 34 that there were four classes of revenue-payers 
before the Permanent Settlement, viz., (1) original independent 
chiefs, (2) old established landholding families, (3) collectors 
of revenue whose'office had become hereditary, and (4) farmers 
of revenue (who came into existence after 1765). The effect 
of the Permanent Settlement was to level all classes. In this 
recital, there is an erroneous impression that the Permanent 
Settlement was made with persons, all of whom were not actual 
proprietors of the soil. But the fact was that the persons 
having the best proprietary right were settled with. To quote 
Sir George Campbell 1 , "the settlement was by no means made 
with the great zamindars exclusively; when holders of smaller 
degree were thought to have stronger claims, it was made with 
them. There were many such small holders; and in one or two 
of the eastern districts of Bengal the mere cultivators were 
found to have the best claim, and the settlement is, for the 
most part, to all intents and purposes, raiyatwar". This 
should be recognised that settlements were made with the 
proprietors of land; persons having the best proprietary claim 
had not been set aside under any plea whatsoever. 

18. Relevant sections of Regulation VI 1 1 of 1793. The 

original rules and orders relative to the decennial settlements 
of Bihar, Orissa and Bengal, passed for these provinces 
respectively on the 18th September 1789, 25th November 1789, 
and 10th February 1790 were considerably modified and 
enlarged by the Governor-General in Council on the 23rd 
November 1791, and the amended Code of Regulations after 
certain modifications found place in Regulation VIII of 1793. 
Section 29 of the Regulation reads thus: 

c< If, after due inquiries and reference to the Mufassal 
Records the proprietors of any land cannot be 
ascertained, the lands are to be held khas pro-tempore, 
and the same mode is to be adopted with regard to 
absentees. In both cases an advertisement is to be 
issued, requiring the proprietors, or absentees to 
attend within a period of six months; and if they 

Wide the Cobden Club Paper, page 236. 



201 

should not be forthcoming at the expiration of that 
period, a settlement is to be made with a farmer for 
ten years, allotting a preference to the zamindar 
nearest in situation on his agreeing to the jumma 
and terms that may be prescribed by the Collectors." 

This section will amply show that there was ho case of 
levelling "all classes of revenue payers", but the governing 
idea was to settle with the actual proprietors of land. 
Persons having the best right were preferred. Section 30 
states that where the property of the lands is disputed, the 
settlement is to be made with the proprietor in possession under 
an express declaration that he is nevertheless liable to the 
claims upon the estate which is transferable to any other to 
whom the property may,be subsequently adjudged. Section 44 
provides that if the landholders having the best claim decline 
to engage for the jumma preferred, they are to receive 
malikana, an allowance in consideration of their proprietary 
rights 1 . All this clearly proves that the Company found an 
agency in zamindars because they were "the actual proprietors 
of land". 

19. Proprietorship, Limited versus Absolute. In the 

Report there is an undue emphasis on the point that the 
zamindars in Bengal had never absolute right of property in 
the soil (Paragraph 33). Their impatience in proving this 
central point was so pronounced that they placed Shore as 
advocating limited but not absolute proprietary rights of the 
zamindars (Paragraph 33). Shore, however, did not lay 
importance on the differentiation of limited right from absolute 
right; rather he suggested that "this interference", the need of 
which was felt both by him and Lord Cornwallis, was 
inconsistent with proprietary right and an encroachment upon 
it. Thus, Shore sincerely believed that under the Permanent 
Settlement arrangements, "absolute proprietary right" was 
being granted to the zamindars. 

20. "Ownership" of land explained. The Report states: 
"the zamindars in Bengal never had an absolute right of 

1 Section 44 of Regulation VIII of 1793 reads as follows: 

"Proprietors who may finally decline engaging for the jumma proposed to them,, 
and whose lands may consequently be let in farm, or held khas, aw* to receive mali- 
kana (an allowance in consideration of their proprietary rights) at the rate of ten per 
cent, on the Suddar jamma of their lands, if let in farm, or at the same rate on the neat 
collections from their lands, if held khas, viz., on the neat amount realised by Govern- 
ment after defraying the malikana, as well as all other charges. Out of this allowance, 
however, a provision is to be made for such persons belonging to the families of the 
proprietors as may be entitled thereto." 



202 

property in the soil; nor was it intended to give them such 
rights by the Permanent Settlement. Their rights have always 
been limited by the rights of raiyats". (Paragraph 42.) 

It is a well known principle of jurisprudence that no one ever 
did or can own land in any country in the sense of absolute 
ownership such ownership as a man may have in movable 
property. To appreciate the subject of property in land, one 
has to get rid of the idea of absolute ownership. "Such an 
idea is quite unknown to the English Law. No man is, in law, 
the absolute owner of lands. He can only hold an estate in 
them 1 ." This fact should be accepted that no man could be 
the absolute owner of land and that no man was so in England 3 . 
It is no derogation from the proprietary right of landlord, if 
he enjoys it subject to the rights of raiyats. The word 
' 'estate'' ' in legal phraseology means "the interest in reality 
owned by an individual, the aggregate of the rights over land 
vested in a particular person". The extent of this interest 
may vary considerably, e.g., an estate for life, an estate-tail, an 
estate in fee simple, none of which phrases carries the idea of 
owning the land itself 3 . Tn this view of the case, the observa- 
tion in the Report that "in Bengal the rights of the zamindars 
have always been limited by the rights of the raiyats" 
does not establish the point, which has been hinted at, that 
the zamindars were not "proprietors of the soil"; moreover, 
this is an admission accepted in the Report that the zamindars 
were the dominant, and raiyats subordinate, partners in land. 

21. Rule of construction. In interpreting the Permanent 
Settlement Regulations the rule of construction is that 
"whatever the raiyat has, the zamindar has all the rest which 
is necessary to complete ownership of the land 4 ." When the 
rights of raiyats are ascertained from a study of the Regulations 
of 1793, there must remain to the zamindar all rights and 
privileges of ownership which are not inconsistent with* or 

1 William on the Law of Real Property, quoted by Field in "Landholding, " page 509. 

2 An English landowner does also enjoy the right of proprietorship, limited by the rights 
of raiyats. Although in England rights of tenants are generally based on contract and not 
on customs recognised by law, the Agricultural Holdings Act teems with provisions in 
respect of compensation for improvements, compensation for damage by game, compen- 
sation for disturbance and other matters. Penal rents are abolished and the tenant has 
full freedom of cropping and full right to dispose of any produce of the holding. Raiyats 
at the time of the Permanent Settlement in 1793 enjoyed hardly greater rights than the 
tenants in England. 

8 Field's Landholding, pages 509-10. 

*Judgment of Mr. Justice Phear in Narendra Narayan Roy Chowdhury versus Ishan 
Chandra Sen, 13, B. L. R., 274, at page 288. Quoted 'by Phillips in ''Land Tenures," 
pages 362-63. 



203 

obstructive of them. 1 his point of view has been accepted in 
the Great Rent Case (1865) and other important judicial 
decisions 1 . 

22. The ten per cent, for landlords. The Report makes 
the following interesting observations: 

"It fixed the revenue at ten-elevenths of the assets which 
left to the zamindars one-tenth of the reve'nue which 
they paid." (Paragraph 44.) 

"The property that it gave to the zamindars consisted of 
one-tenth of the State's share." (Paragraph 44.) 

The specific provisions of Regulation VIII of 1793 clearly 
stated that the governing idea of assessment was not to leave 
ten per cent, for landlords; the assessment was rather in excess 
of the prevailing raiyati rental. 

(a) The Bengal Special Orders. It is well-known that u in 
fixing the amount of assessment, the jumma of the preceding 
years was the standard" (ride section LXVIII of Regulation 
VIII of 1793). It was not determined if the zamindars had 
one-tenth or not. "No abatement from the jumma of the 
preceding year is to be allowed without the special sanction of 
the Governor-General in Council" (Section LXX). Section 
LXXII states : "The settlement is to be made, as far as possible 
in one neat sum, free from any charges of moshaira, zamindaree 
amlah, poolbundy, cutchery charges, or others of a similar 
nature; it being intended that all charges incidental to the 
receipt of the rents of the lands, and independent of the 
allowances of the officers of Government, and expenses 
attending the collection of the public revenue, shall be defrayed 
by the proprietors from the produce of their lands." Section 
LXXV states that "in all such instances (where the actual 
produce of lands may have been ascertained) and in all 
separated taluks (which have not heretofore paid any jumma 
immediately to Government) the jumma of which shall clearly 
appear to have been fixed below the general rate of assessment 
of the pargana wherein they are situated, the assessment is to 
be regulated so as to leave to the proprietors a provision for 
themselves and families equal to about ten per cent, on the 
amount of their contributions to Government". These were 
the statutory directions for Bengal. 

(b) The Bihar Orders. With respect to Bihar the position 
was this: settlement is to be concluded with actual proprietors 

x The Lord Chancellor stated in Freeman versus Fairlie (1828): "Considering with the 
best attention in my power these papers, they confirm most strongly the opinion I should 
have derived from the Permanent Regulations, namely, that the proprietor of the soil 
had a permanent interest in it at the time when the English established themselves in that 
settlement. " (Moore's Indian Appeal Cases, Volume I.) 



204 

of all lands heretofore paying revenue immediately to 
Government which may have been held at a fixed jumma during 
the last twelve years at the jumma hitherto paid by them, 
subject to such deduction as may be found equitable on account 
of sayer, resumed or abolished (Section LXXXIV). With 
regard to f other lands, the Collectors are to adopt in all 
practicable instances the following general rule; that the 
average product of the land in common years (assuming three 
or four for the calculation) be taken as the basis of the 
settlement, and from this, deductions be made equal to the 
malikana and khurcha, leaving the remainder as the jumma 
of Government (Section LXXXIII). No abatement from 
the Suddar jumma of 1196 (Bengali year) is to be confirmed 
without the special sanction of the Governor-General in Council. 

(c) The Midnapore Orders. With regard to Midnapore it 
is said that "the Collector is authorised to make alteration in 
the jumma of 1196, when from good information and his own 
experience, it may appear necessary to render the jumma of the 
respective zamindars, independent talukdars, and other actual 
proprietors of land, more equal and proportioned to the 
resources of their lands" (vide section LXXXVIII) . In order 
to ascertain the necessity of granting remissions upon the 
jumma of 1196, the Collector is to examine the gross receipts 
and expenditures. To obviate unnecessary and studied delays 
by the zamindars and talukdars in giving the accounts required, 
he can impose fines. In case of uncertainty, he can measure 
lands, make mufassal investigations into the produce of them. 
All these salutary provisions which were applicable to 
Midnapore did not refer to Bengal and Bihar. 

(d) The standard assessment enhanced. We have recited 
the above provisions of Eegulation VIII of 1793 (which stand 
repealed by the Repealing Act, 1874) to disprove the popular 
contention, supported in the Report, that the Permanent 
Settlement left one-tenth for the zamindars. Even the rule that 
the basis of the settlement at the time of the Permanent 
Settlement was that of the previous year was not strictly 
followed and the situation was made more unfavourable tc 
zamindars, as pointed out by J. Westland in his report on the 
District of Jessore, 1874 1 . 

1 Westland observes: "Isafpur was settled at Rs. 3,02,372, about Rs. 5,000 more thai 
the demand of the previous year (taking sayer deductions into account). The Saydpu 
estate was made to pay Rs. 90,583 or Rs. 2,000 more than the previous year. MuHtonma< 
Sahi, four-fifths share, an estate which had been almost ruined, had its revenue increase* 
from Rs. 1,34,665 to Rs. 1,37,697 and further increase of Rs. 12,634 in five yearly addi 

tions was to accrue to this demand The zamindars in accepting the settlement 

set seal to their own ruin." 



205 

(e) Cossim All's assessment. The claim made in the Report 
with regard to 4 'one-tenth of the State's share" for the 
zamindars can also be refuted by an examination of the highly 
excessive assessment of the settlement of 1793. According to 
Grant, the assessment of Bengal at the close of Cossim Ali's 
administration (that is, in 1763) was Rs. 256 lakhs (for 
Dewanny and ceded lands of Bengal), the highest ^assessment 
ever claimed during the Moghul period. Shore 1 described the 
assessment as "pillage and rack-rent" as Cossim Ali 
e 'attempted to realise for the State nearly all that the raiyats 
paid" and "endeavoured in some instances to deprive the 
raiyats of what was allotted for their subsistence and 
emolument". Shore further maintained that "this amount 
was ever realised by Cossim Ali or by any Nazim, no proof has 
yet been exhibited; nor would the collection of it for one or two 
years establish the practicability of fixing this sum as a 
permanent realisable revenue". 

(/) Assessment and collections. If we examine the 
assessment and collections of the Dewanny lands of Bengal for 
four successive years (from 1762 to 1766), we can have an idea 
of the capacity of the country : 

Gross 
Settlement. Settlement. Collection. Balance. 

Rs. Rs. Rs. 

1762-63 (Cossim Ali) .. 2,41,18,912 64,56,198 2 1,76,62,713 

1763-64 (Nund Coomar) .. 1,77,04,766 76,18,407 1,00,86,358 

1764-65 (Nuiid Coomar) .. 1,76,97,678 81,75,533 95,22,144 

1765-66 (Mohd. Reza Khan) 1,60,29,011 1,47,04,878 13,24,135 

The above figures have been drawn by Shore from the records 
of the Khalsa and Kanungoes and they confirm that Cossim 
Ali's assessment was a paper assessment only and the highest 
collection recorded was Rs. 147 lakhs. Shore after making 
detailed studies into the figures of assessment observed that 
"the revenues of the Dewanny lands of Bengal, forthcoming 
to the State (in 1786-87) were actually more than in 1765-66V 

Wide Shore's Minute of 18th June 1789. Shore observed: "So far from admitting his 
assessment as any evidence of the capacity of the country, I consider it as a proof of viol- 
ence and extortion, which rendered subsequent decay inevitable." 

*This collection refers to the first nine and a half months, and the full year's receipts 
(on the basis of the receipts of Dinajpur which were complete) may amount to 
Rs. 1,31,21,903. Shore describes the conjecture as unimportant. 

8 Mr. Shore says that the gross settlement of Dewanny lands in 1765-66 was 
Rs. 1,60,78,268 whereas the gross settlement in 1786-87 was Rs. 1,49,54,808. The assess- 
ment of 1765-66 comprehended all that was publicly demanded from the Dewanny lands 
under every denomination. That is, it included the rents of salt lands and duties of all 
kinds. But the gross assessment of 1786-87 was independent of customs and salt duties. 
Accordingly, the assessment of 1786-87 was in reality higher than that imposed in 1765-66. 



206 

(g) Shore's calculations. According to Shore, the assess- 
ment of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa in 1786-87 was the 
following: 

Rs. 
Dewanny lands . . . . . . . . 1,49,54,808 

Ceded lands (including Midnapur) . . . . 67,71,782 

Tana B^jhar (acquired since Dewanny, that is in 1773-74) . . 73,071 

Subah Behar . . . . . . . . 49,87,194 



2,67,86,855 

(h) Grant's calculations. According to Grant, the gross 
rent, mehal and sayer, actually realised to the Company in 
1784 was this : 

Bengal Rs. 

Dewanny lands . . . . . . 1,37,20,683 

Ceded lands . . . . . . 62,86,955 

Bihar . . . . . . . . 53,33,492 

Orissa 

Midnapur . . . . . . . . 8,73,355 

2,62,14,485 



According to Shore, the customs duty in 1786-87 was Rs. 13 
lakhs. Hence, land revenue for Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, as 
actually realised in 1784, was Rs. 249 lakhs. 

(i) Increase of assessment per every settlement. Thus the 
effective increase of assessment per every settlement from 
1765-66 to 1786-87 went on in spite of the following deterrent 
conditions : 

(1) In the famine of 1770, caused by the general failure 
of the December harvest in 1769 and intensified by 
a partial failure of the crops of the previous year 
and the following spring, "thirty-five per cent, of 
the whole population and fifty per cent, of 
cultivators perished" and "a whole generation of 
once rich families had been reduced to indigence". 
"In a country whose inhabitants live entirely by 
agriculture, depopulation is always followed by a 
proportionate area of the land falling out of tillage. 
Bengal had lost one-third of its people and one- 
third of its surface speedily became waste" and 
"for the first fifteen years after the famine, 
depopulation steadily increased", and "until 1785 
the old generation died off without there being any 
rising generation to step into their places 1 ." 

hunter's "The Annals of Rural Bengal,'* Chapter II. 



207 

Shore records another famine in 1784, though in 
a much less degree, and inundations in Eastern 
Provinces in 1787 and partial scarcity in 1786. 

(2) "Since the Company's acquisition of the country, the 

current specie of the country has been greatly 
diminished in quantity; the old channels of 
importation, by which the drains were formerly 
replenished, are now in a great measure closed; the 
necessity of supplying China, Madras, and Bombay 
with money, as well as the exportation of it by 
Europeans to England will contribute still further 
to exhaust the country of its silver 1 ." The total 
amount of drain to England during the period from 
1757 to 1780 appears to have been something like 
38 million pounds sterling 2 . The total amount of 
"investment" during 1766 to 1780 was 12,360,264 3 . 

(3) The monopolistic trading policy of the Company in 

compelling raiyats to sell their products at an 
arbitrarily low price and to buy their goods at an 
enhanced price and the decline of the weaving and 
salt industries providing a supplementary income 
impaired the raiyat's power of producing wealth. 
The extortionate revenue demand and the policy of 
farming to the highest bidders struck the landlords 
low. 

(j) Computation of the raiyati assets. Grant maintained 
that annual net malguzary in 1763 (during the period of Cossim 
Ali's administration) was the following : 

Rs. 

(Lakhs). 

Bengal Dewanny lands and ceded lands . . 256 

, Bihar . . . . . . . . 65 

Orissa Midnapur . . . . . . 1 1 



Total . . 332 



Wide Shore's Minute of June, 1789. "The great quantity of specie which has of late 
been exported from this country and the large investments annually sent home to England 
for which no returns are made, have also had a considerable influence in producing a decay 
of the revenue." Letter of M. Dacres, dated 10th February 1775, quoted by Professor 
R. Ramsbotham in his "Studies in the Land Revenue History of Bengal, 1769-1787", 
page 68, 

a Dr. J. C. Sinha's "Economic Annals of Bengal'*, pages 51-52. 

8 A certain portion of the territorial revenue of Bengal was set apart every year to be 
employed in the purchase of goods for exportation to England. This was called investment. 
The figures of the annual investment of Bengal, year by year, from 1760 to 1780 are given 
by Dr. P. N. Banerjee in his "Finance in the days of the Company " from the Ninth Report 
of the Select Committee, 1783. 



208 

Grant never errs on the side of under-estimation. In a single 
famine of 1770, one-third of land went out of cultivation; 
since the famine, depopulation increased, accelerated by 
further famines, extortionate demands from raiyats and the 
unfair trading policy of the Company. If we take the 
assessment of 1763 as the standard which was rejected by 
Shore on good grounds, we may calculate that the assessment 
ought to have gone down by at least half or by one-third at the 
modest computation. That is, land revenue demand before the 
Decennial Settlement would have stood at Rs. 166 lakhs in the 
'Case of one-half of land going out of cultivation or at Rs. 220 
lakhs in the case of one-third. But in 3786, the gross land 
revenue of Rs. 250 lakhs, according to Grant, was realised. 
All this shows that the coercive rate of Moghul assessment 
was maintained in full and augmented by the Company, 
although the resources declined through the effects of famines, 
scarcity and calamities and the diminution of the specie and 
other reasons recited above. 

In the face of these statistical information collected from 
contemporary records by contemporary authorities, it is 
extremely difficult to maintain that the revenue demand of 
Us. 268 lakhs of sicca rupees left to zamindars "one-tenth of 
the State's share 1 ". 

23. Advance Assessment. Accordingly, Shore main- 
tained that "in tracing the progress of the asesssment since 
the acquisition of the Dewanny, we find that its amount has 
generally been fixed by conjectural estimates only; and hence 
it has happened that the impositions at one time have been too 
heavy to be discharged". In the circumstances, it can be 
maintained that the Permanent Settlement revenue demand 
was unconscionably high as the rate of assessment adopted 
during Cossim Ali's administration which left nothing to 
zamindars and raiyats, was maintained and augmented by the 
Company's policy of farming and that the demand of 1793 
was "an advance assessment" to the tune of nearly a crore or 
half a crore at least, and in reality it was more excessive if 
we take into account high rate of assessment and the low 
purchasing power of landlords and raiyats. 



e have not taken into consideration alienated lands and the profits therefrom which, 
according to Shore, were "as little as the Government ought to leave them". Moreover, 
the profits of alienated lands were not wholly enjoyed by the zamindars. Shore observed: 
"I do not consider the nankar or chakran to be a fund of which Government can with 
propriety avail itself for increasing the revenue, as I believe the actual charge of collections 
to be fully equal to the produce of lands applicable to defray them, as far as these are as- 
pertained** (Minute of June, 1789). 



209 

(a) The raiyati assets of the country did not even guarantee 
the revenue demand of 1793, far less did it ensure one-tenth to 
the zamindars. But the demand was made and realised with 
the utmost severity of the new "sunset law" and the justification 
was made on the ground that the assessment was not subject 
to "augmentation in consequence of the improvements of their 
(landlords') estates", that landlords "will enjoy exclusively the 
fruits of their own good management and industry" (vide 
Article VI of Regulation I of 1793) and that "no power will 
then exist in the country by which the rights vested in the 
landholders by the Regulations can be infringed or the value of 
landed property affected" (vide preamble to Regulation II of 
1793). 

(b) The demand of 1793 which was proportioned according 
to the Company's needs and not to the estimated resources of 
the country could not be justified and realised without detriment 
to the ultimate interests of the country under any other 
settlement. The Permanent Settlement was thus inevitable, 
as it was only under that settlement, the landlord will "employ 
every means in his power to render him capable of paying that 
sum, and as large a surplus as possible for his own use. His 
ability to raise money to make these exertions will be 
proportionately increased by the additional value which the 
limitation of the public demand will stamp upon his landed 
property; the reverse of this is to be expected, when the public 
assessment is subject to unlimited increase". This long and 
sound view was taken by Lord Cornwallis in his Minute, 3rd 
February, 1790 1 . 

24. No case for temporary settlement. The temporary 
settlement of 30 or 40 years was rejected both by Shore and 
Cornwallis as that could not and would not give the desired 
incentive to promoting agriculture which was in distress. But 
the Report records the following opinion in disregard of the 
historical forces prevalent at the time of Permanent 
Settlement : 

"It can be seen now that if the Government at that time 
had taken sufficiently long view, a temporary settle- 
ment not for 10 years, but for a longer period of 30 



Cornwallis in this Minute argues the case for fixed assessment and supports it on 
financial and political grounds. In conclusion, he says: "A very material alteration in the 
principles of our system of management has therefore hecome indispensably necessary in 
order to restore this country to a state of prosperity, and to enable it to continue to be a 
solid support to the British interests and power, in this part of the world. We can only 
accomplish this desirable object by devising measures to rouse and increase the industry 
of the inhabitants; and it would be in vain to hope that any means but those of holding 
forth prospects of private advantage to themselves could possibly succeed to animate them 
to exertion." Shore wanted perpetual assessment "with more accurate information." 



210 

or 40 years would have been adopted." (Paragraph 

47.) 

Referring to the financiers and critics of the above kind, 
Justice Sarada Charan Mitter observed : 'They forget that 
the East' India Company would have been reduced to 
bankruptcy, if they had not adopted the principle of the 
Permanent Settlement; they forget that the vested rights of a 
large number of zamindars required Permanent Settlement, 
and that, taking all things into consideration, the State has 
not suffered 1 ." 

25. Shore's plan of settlement. The Report states 

'The only practical alternatives were to collect the revenue 
either through the zamindars, who had hereditary 
connection with particular areas and who had carried 
out that duty for previous Governments or to appoint 
an entirely new set of professional tax collectors. 
The latter system had been tried between 1770 and 

1775 and had failed disastrously Shore 

recommended temporary settlement for 10 years. 
(Paragraphs 45 and 47.) 

We are glad to notice that the inexorable need for settlement 
with the zamindars is not disputed or under-estimated. But 
it is not true to say that Shore favoured a temporary settlement 
for 10 years so that in each renewal revenue might go on 
increasing. That is interpreting Shore's standpoint in a very 
unsympathetic way. Shore was not against the Permanent 
Settlement of revenue as he maintained in his Minute of 8th 
December 1789, that "our measures have a view to perma- 
nency", but before recommending it he desired the rights, and 
payments of raiyats to be defined and adjusted, because in his 
opinion it would be inexpedient to go in for perpetual 
assessment without a "real knowledge of the resources of the 
country". He suggested that there were not sufficient 
materials for this definition and adjustment, and naturally he 
wanted the Decennial Settlement to run out, so that the 
information obtained and experience gained might be helpful 
to fix assessment in perpetuity and define the payment of 
raiyats. Shore, therefore, submitted : "Is it not better to 
introduce a new principle by degrees than establish it beyond 
the power of revocation V Lord Cornwallis was not impressed 

fustic Hitter's Land Law of Bengal, page 105. 



211 

with Shore's arguments in the matter of obtaining further 
information. Shore in his propositions for the Bengal 
Settlement enunciated certain principles upon which the pattas 
should be granted to raiyats. Lord Cornwallis accepted 
Shore's plan in this matter but differed from him in the view 
that a ten years' lease would "equal in estimate to perpetuity". 
The whole of the papers including the Minutes of Shore 
and Lord Cornwallis were submitted to the Directors who 
observed that "the difference of opinion between these two 
statesmen did not relate so much to general principles as to the 
local application of them". The Court of Directors fully 
agreed with Lord Cornwallis in the matter of fixing assess- 
ments on landlords in perpetuity and considered long leases 
which would continue "the evils of the former practice" 
impolitic and inexpedient 1 . 

26. The Protection Clause analysed. The Report by 
implication admits that different tenancy legislations have 
transferred rights to raiyats the rights which, in fact, 
belonged to zamindars and did not reside in raiyats. In 
paragraph 43, the Report states that the Permanent Settlement 
took away from the raiyats part of their rights. Proceeding 
further they say that through series of tenancy legislations 
there are "no elements of proprietorship of landlords for which 
it would be worth their (occupancy raiyats) while to pay 
anything". (Paragraph 43.) 

This is a clear admission that the tenancy legislations have 
gone beyond their limits. Clause VII of Regulation I of 1793, 
on the basis of which the need for interference by Government 
under cover of tenancy legislations in the relations between 
landlords and tenants is justified, cannot and does not 
contemplate the extinguishment of the definite rights granted 
to landlords by the Permanent Settlement Regulations. The 
Protection Clause has been made to yield meaning which it 
did not, in reality, carry. As in history, so in law, 
contemporary evidence is essential to comprehending the 
significance of a particular statement. If we analyse Lord 
Cornwalli s' Minute of the 3rd February 1790 and the letter 
of Court of Directors, dated the 19th September 1792, wherein 
the right of interference by Government was emphasised, we 

lr The Court of Directors in sanctioning the proposals of Lord Cornwallis were very 
definite on this question: "No conviction is stronger upon our minds than that instability 
in the mode of administering our revenues has had the most prejudicial effects upon the 
welfare of the provinces; upon our affairs; and the character of our Government; and of all 
the generated evils of unsettled principles of administration none has been more baneful 
than frequent variation in the assessment. " 



212 

can get at the scope of the Protection Clause which was 
evidently inserted to establish regulations for preventing 
landlords from imposing "abwabs and the like abuses" on 
raiyats and to prevent raiyats from being "improperly 
disturbed in their possession or loaded with unwarrantable 
exactions" 4 . This specific nature of protection, contemplated 
by the Reservation Clause, has not received proper appreciation 
in the main Report. 

The scope of the Protection Clause was appreciated by the 
second Select Committee set up by the House of Commons in 
1830 who did not favour interference between zamindars and 
raiyats, as in their opinion "this would amount to a breach of 
faith with the zamindars". (Paragraph 55.) It was only 
through the efforts of certain revenue officers that disturbing 
tenancy legislations were mooted and passed in scorn of the 
plighted pledge to zamindars. 

27. Expectations of the Settlement. The Fifth Report, 
1812, stated that the intentions and expectations of the 
Government in the matter of the Permanent Settlement had 
been fulfilled. The Report of the Commission seeks to contest 
the view by referring to the views expressed by Colebrooke, 
Lord Moira and others (Paragraph 53). The intentions of 
the Permanent Settlement were great and far-reaching, and 
these officers did not challenge that the political, financial and 
administrative objects of the Settlement had been defeated 
but merely pointed out certain defects which went to impair 
the rights of raiyats in certain cases. 

In recording complaints against the Permanent Settlement 
on one or two specific points which arose chiefly from 
uncertainty of ancient usages, it should not be forgotten that 
its fundamental objects (viz., promotion of agricultural 
prosperity, consolidation of British Rule, and stabilisation of 
the Company's finances) had been achieved. "The ground for 
subsequent complaint is to be found not so much in those 
principles (of the Permanent Settlement) as in the failure to 
carry them out and in the ideas which afterwards arose from 
a misinterpretation of them 1 / 1 

28. Enhancement of rent. With regard to the rents of the 
khudkasht raiyats, the following admissions are made in the 
Report: 

(a) Enhancements of revenue during the Moghul Period 
had the effect of enhancing the pargana rates. 

(Paragraph 36.) 

j , 

1 Sir George Campbell's Cobden Club Paper. 



213 

(b) The pargana rates differed from pargana to 

pargana and from village to village, and different 
rates were payable for different crops. (Paragraph 
36.) 

(c) No provision was made in the Permanent Settlement 

Regulation to fix rents in perpetuity. (Paragraph 
37.) 

In the ericumstances, the landlord's right to enhance rents 
in the period anterior and posterior to the Permanent Settle- 
ment can hardly be denied. At that time (that is, in 1793), 
the rents represented approximately half the value of the gross 
produce. The Report states: ''Nobody thought it possible that 
rents should be further enhanced" (Paragraph 38). At no 
stage in history following the Permanent Settlement have the 
rents of Bengal gone beyond half of the value of gross 
produce. If the raiyati rent in Bengal in 1793 represented 
half of the gross produce (a statement which is true according 
to the statements of Shore and others), the present raiyati 
rental represents one-fifteenth of the value of produce a 
position which does not support the theory of "rack-renting" 
by landlords, as hinted at in the Report (Paragraph 39). 

29. So-called defects of the Settlement. The Report goes 
further and says: 

"It has deprived the Government of any share in the 
increment in the value of land due to the increase in 
population and the extension of cultivation; and it 
has perpetuated an assessment which has no relation 
to the productive quality of land which varies widely 
in its incidence from district to district, and whicn 
becomes more and more uneven as time goes on." 
(Paragraph 80.) 

These observations are traceable to an imperfect under- 
standing of the scope and terms of the Permanent Settlement 
Regulations. In proportion as agriculture improves, 
Governmental receipts under other heads will increase. Lord 
Comwallis impressed this point of view very strongly in his 
Minute of 3rd February 1790 and stated: "By reserving the 
collection of the internal duties on commerce, Government may 
at all times appropriate to itself a share of the accumulating 
wealth of its subjects without their being sensible of it. The 
burden will also be more equally distributed; at present the 
whole weight rests upon the landholders and cultivators of 



214 

the soil " This is undoubtedly a sound view in public finance 
which has not been appreciated in the Report. Dominated by 
an extremely narrow view, the Report states: "There has 
been little inducement (on the part of Government) to spend 
public money on agricultural development when the benefit of 
the improvement goes into private hands. (Paragraph 84.) 

It is interesting to observe that the Report criticises the 
Cf perpetual assessment' ' on the ground that it is losing its 
relationship to the productive quality of land, which varies 
from district to district. But the Report appreciates the fact 
that no effective enhancement of rent payable by raiyats can 
be made by landlords, and this has led to fixity of rent. This 
fixity of rent has led to unequal and varying incidences having 
no relation to the productive quality of land, and all this has 
been done by the tenancy legislation which introduced the 
principle of the prevailing rate of rent. The prevailing rate, 
defined by section 31 A of the Bengal Tenancy Act as the highest 
of such rates at which and at rates higher than which the 
larger portion of land of a similar description and with similar 
advantages are held within any village or villages, involves a 
departure from the principle of the pargana rate, accepted by 
the Permanent Settlement Regulations. 

30. Extension of cultivation by landlords. The Report 
has endorsed the popular contention that the extension of 
cultivation has been the work of actual cultivators; zamindars 
as a class did not do anything (Paragraph 82). This 
unsupported statement has been made in disregard of historical 
facts. The country at the time of the Permanent Settlement 
was fof the most part wholly uncultivated; there were extensive 
jungles; but there were not sufficient tillers. The Province, to 
quote Sir William Hunter, cannot be repeopled by an Act of 
Parliament. Agriculture being an industry of slow turn -over, 
raiyats cannot carry on the work of cultivation without 
financial aid from others Raiyats had no reserve fund; they 
were passing through years of scarcity and famine, and in such 
circumstances they could not extend cultivation unaided. An 
examination of -the evidence placed before the Select 
Committee, 1830, Third Report, clearly shows that cultivation 
had extended beyond measure. Government did not and could 
not do anything; professional mahajans did not invest money 
for agriculture. It was the zamindars who courted peasants 
to undertake cultivation, enticed away tenants by offering 
lower terms, often stipulated that there' would be no rent for a 
certain number of years necessary in clearing jungles , and 
provided for their maintenance during the period of cultivation. 



215 

There was no other agency than landlords; landlords did all 
this not because they had surplus money but because their very 
existence depended on promotion of cultivation. These 
historical facts which are undisputed have not been recognised 
in the Report, and naturally the condemnation of the 
zamindari system easily flowed from them. 

In the evidence before the Select Committee of the House 
of Commons, 1830, many of the close critics of the zamindar 
could not ignore the historical fact that cultivation extended 
in Bengal under the zamindari system. Mr. Mill, a great 
radical thinker of England, and a close critic of the zamindari 
system, admitted the following contentions in his evidence: 

(a) There has been a considerable increase of capital and 
extension of cultivation in Bengal, (&) the situation 
of raiyats has improved. 

Many of the zamindaries that were settled in 1793 
contained a considerable portion of waste lands. The 
cultivation of those waste lands has caused diversity in the 
value of estates since the Settlement. There is enough 
historical evidence to show that a great portion of the increase 
of wealth and prosperity of Bengal in the nineteenth century 
was due to the zamindars. 

31. Subinfeudation among landlords. The Report in 
condemnation of subinfeudation resulting from the Permanent 
Settlement remarks: 

'The land is nobody's concern. The zamindar cannot 
obtain an enhancement of rent from any improvements 
which he makes, and feels that he is no longer 
responsible for improvements.'' (Paragraph 78.) 

This is an indictment not against the Permanent Settlement 
but against the Tenancy Act. Tt is true that the Permanent 
Settlement Regulations encouraged subinfeudation among 
landlords. This had led to dispersion of wealth flowing from 
agricultural land amongst a vast body of tenure holders. It is 
thus a social question because the middle classes became 
interested in the land system. It did not and could not depress 
agriculture. The Report admits that the zamindar cannot 
obtain an enhancement of rent for any improvements and 
naturally he does not invest money for improvements when 
returns are not assured. This is bound to happen in every 
business undertaking. 



216 

32. Subinfeudation among raiyats. The "rack-renting'" 
of actual cultivators and the consequential decline of agriculture 
resulted directly from subinfeudation among raiyats which was 
encouraged by the Tenancy Act. The incentive to agricultural 
improvement by landlords has been asphyxiated by the 
Tenancy Act. In this wise, it can be seen that the evils 
complained of in the Report are due to factors which have not 
been encouraged by the Permanent Settlement. But all the 
same the Settlement has been criticised for evils coming from 
different directions and social forces. Much of the criticism 
has, therefore, resulted from a misunderstanding of the 
Settlement of 1793. 

33i. The Permanent Settlement misjudged. Accordingly, 
the chai^ge that "the Permanent Settlement has imposed on the 
Province an iron framework which had the effect of stifling the 
enterprise and initiative of all the classes concerned" (Para- 
graph 82), is misdirected and delivered on wrong data, and 
this has been responsible for the opinion held and endorsed in 
the Ileport that the Permanent Settlement of 1793 is "no 
longer suited to the conditions of the present time". The 
defects in the rural economy of Bengal that have grown from 
other distinct causes have been considered to be flowing from 
the Settlement of 1793, and this confused approach has vitiated 
many of the recommendations of the Report. 

Some of the observations with regard to the results of the 
Permanent Settlement, made in the Report, are born of popular 
beliefs. They are given below: 

(1) "Inelasticity" of revenue. The Report states: 

"The land revenue, which is the chief source of Government 
in an agricultural country, has remained almost 
entirely inelastic for 150 years." (Paragraph 72.) 

Land revenue is not the only form of direct taxation of 
agricultural income; there are cesses of various kinds such as 
the Public Works , and Road Cesses, and the Primary Educa- 
tion Cess (imposed in many districts). In the matter of 
cesses, the following deterrent factors should also be taken into 
account : 

(a) landlords function as agencies for collection of cesses; 
they save Governmental expenses of collection but 
are not entitled to any remuneration therefor; 
(&) landlords are to pay the quota of the cesses payable by 
raiyats and have to face the risks and losses 
consequent on non-realisation or on delayed 
realisations. 



217 

In the case of land revenue and cesses, the charge on land 
income has no reference to actual cash receipts or realisations, 
and the incidence of charges on agricultural income is high 
when we consider the fact that it pays its quota even if the 
income is not accrued. Therefore, the inelasticity of land 
revenue has been overcome by forcing landlords to pay cesses 
of various kinds and undergo the charges of collection for the 
same. It is, therefore, not correct to say that there has been 
4 'discrimination in favour of land" (Paragraph 80), 
especially when it is remembered that agricultural land pays 
also union rate, canal rate (if any), and municipal rate (if 
situated in municipal areas). 

(2) The benefit of higher prices. The Report makes the 
following critical statement: 

'The benefit of more valuable crops and higher prices has 
partly gone to the landlords, when they could increase 
rents, and to the tenants, when they could not." 
(Paragraph 72.) 

The average raiyati rental shows that landlords have not 
taken advantage of the rise in the prices of produce in the 
matter of enhancing rents 1 . The benefit of higher prices has 
gone to landlords in an extremely limited way even under Act 
X of 1859, as the following rule of proportion, laid down in the 
Great Kent Case (1865) 2 was adopted "as the old value of 
produce is to the rent, so is the present value of produce to the 
rent which ought now to be paid". Thus the rise /in the 
value of produce was shared both by landlords and tenants in 
cases where rents have been enhanced, and exclusively by 
tenants in cases where rents have not been increased. The 
Tenancy Act of 1885 limited the ground of enhancement in 
the event of rise in the value of produce to staple food crops 
only. Since then, the unearned increment due to the rise in 
the prices of jute, indigo, tobacco, sugar and other non-food 
crops has been exclusively shared by raiyats. It is well-known 
that non-food crops are more valuable in Bengal. In the 
circumstances, the above observation is far from truth. 

*Mr. R. Knight, Editor of the Calcutta Statesman, in his prefatory note to Mr. Cole- 
brooke's "Husbandry of Bengal" (reprinted in 1884) commented: "With this essay of 
Mr. Colebrooke's in our hand the fact becomes as clear as the noonday sun, that the 
zamindar has so apathetically and carelessly, or else so timidly, asserted his rights, that he 
has allowed his rent to fall almost to nothing." The Commissioners' enquiries from 
District Judges also show that the increment of raiyati assets on the ground of 
enhancement of rent by landlords is only inconsiderable. (Paragraph 122.) 

*rhe Great Rent Case overruled the decision made in Hills versus Ishwar Ghose by the 
Hon'ble Sir Barnes Peacock on the 24th of September 1862, who followed the Malthusian 
doctrine of rent. 



218 

(3) Non-agricultural income. The increment of landlords 5 
income due to the growth of towns and development of trade 
and coal industries has not affected the agricultural popula- 
tion Such incomes of landlords are non-agricultural and 
subject to the same incidence of taxation in common with the 
incomes of other property owners and business people. To 
condemn landlords on that score is to condemn the capitalistic 
basis upon which the whole system, administrative and 
economic, is functioning. 

(4) Revenue from litigation. The Report comments 

"It cannot be a good thing for the Province that so large 
a share of its revenue should be derived from 
litigation/' (Paragraph 74.) 

This complaint cannot be thrown against the Permanent 
Settlement; it is an indictment against the Tenancy Acts. 

In connection with the famous suit of Hills versus Iswar 
Ghose case, the Hon'ble Sir Barnes Peacock said 

"We think we may fairly point to this case as an example 
of the difficulties which have been created by some of 
the provisions of Act X of 1859, and of the vast 
amount of litigation, harassing both the landowners 
and raiyats, which must necessarily arise unless that 
Act be amended." 

Since then different tenancy legislations have been passed 
providing for settlement of every matter of dispute between 
landlord and tenant in a Civil Court, the methods of which are 
proverbially dilatory. The increase of litigation has resulted 
directly from the Tenancy Act which does not favour quick 
decisions even on points with which no rights are concerned. 

34. Manifold advantages. The Report refers to the 
administrative advantage in "the security of revenue" 
(Paragraph 75) but remains silent on the political advantages 
gained by the Permanent Settlement in the task of consolida- 
tion of British rule in India 1 . The Report admits of the 

Bengal with an increased, steady and unvarying income from the soil due to the 
Permanent Settlement paid the expenses of ambitious wars and annexations in Northern 
and Southern India from 1793 to 1837, R. C. Butt remarked "In India an Empire had 
been acquired, wars had been waged, and the Administration had been carried on at the 
cost of the Indian people; the British nation had not contributed a shilling" (Economic 
History of British India). In that period Bengal showed surplus and Bombay and Madras 
deficits. The Public Debt of India which increased owing to the wars was practically 
raised in Bengal (vide. Dr. P. N. Banerjee's Indian Finance in the Days of the Company, 
Chapter III). 



219 

distribution of profits from land among a large body of non- 
agriculturists but doubts if this has intimate relation to higher 
income-tax or customs receiptsln Bengal. They have not taken 
it into consideration that the increased purchasing power of 
the people is in itself a salutary gain and the end in view of 
sound public finance, as indirect and intangible returns 
therefrom will compensate for the so-called visible loss 1 . 
Hence, the remark that the Settlement has "stereotyped the 
land revenue at a figure which is far below the fair share' ' 
(Paragraph 80) of Government is unjustified. 

lf The inelasticity of land revenue (counterbalanced by its certainty and security) has 
given elasticity to the stamp duty, income-tax and customs duty. It has increased the 
purchasing power of the people. No amount of direct and indirect land revenue could 
Dear any proportion to the increased sources of revenue which were directly and indirectly 
gradually developed by the Permanent Settlement. 



CHAPTER III. 

Acquisition of Zamindaries and Tenures. 

35. The constitutional position. The Report states 

11 There is no legal or constitutional bar to the 
reconsideration of the Permanent Settlement or to its 
replacement by any other system which is better 
adapted to the conditions of the present time/' 
(Paragraph 97.) 

It is to be noted that in the matter of the Permanent 
Settlement, the constitutional checks that exist are referred to 
in paragraphs 97 and 99 of the Report. 

An analysis of the constitutional checks does indicate that 
the Permanent Settlement Regulations are not treated exactly 
like other Indian enactments, and that "the Permanent 
Settlement", to quote the Joint Parliamentary Committee's 
Report (Paragraph 372), "is not a matter for which, as the 
result of the introduction of Provincial Autonomy, His 
Majesty's Government can properly disclaim all responsibility" . 

36. Need for protection of property. The Joint 
Parliamentary Committee expressed themselves in the following 
manner as to the need for constitutional checks in protecting 
private property: "We think that some general provision 
should be inserted in the Constitution Act safeguarding private 
property against expropriation in order to quiet doubts which 
have been aroused in recent years by certain Indian utterances/' 
Accordingly, they made the following significant observations 
with regard to the Permanent Settlement: "The alteration of 
the character of the land revenue settlement in Bengal, for 
instance, would involve directly or indirectly the interests of 
vast numbers of the population, in addition to those of the 
comparatively small number of zamindars proper and might 
indeed produce an economic revolution of a most far-reaching 
character. Consequently, no Ministry or Legislature in Bengal 
could, in fact embark upon, or at all events carry to a 
conclusion, legislative proposals which would have such results, 
unless they had behind them an overwhelming volume of public 
opinion. 53 



221 

37. Need of public support. The ' 'volume of public 
support" that has been forthcoming with regard to the repeal 
of the Permanent Settlement has been very negligible if we 
take into consideration all the memoranda and representations 
placed before the Bengal Land Revenue Commission. 

The majority of opinions received by the Land Revenue 
Commission did not favour annulment of the Permanent 
Settlement or State-purchase of zamindaries. 

The Landholders' Associations were unanimous in their 
view that they have played a great part in the economic 
development of the country and that landlords have not failed 
in any way to perform the functions expected of them by the 
Permanent Settlement. The tenancy legislations acted rather 
as handicaps. Most of the Bar Associations, the Hindu and 
Brahman Sabhas and revenue experts like Sir Nalini Ran j an 
Chatterjee, Mr. W. H. Nelson, Rai Bahadur M. N. Gupta, 
Rai Bahadur K. P. Maitra, Rai Bahadur J. N. Sircar 
supported the contention. 

The Bar Associations, the Landholders' Associations, the 
Middle Class Association of Mymensingh, the Hindu Sabha, 
the People's Association of Dacca and experienced Revenue 
Officers were not in favour of the abolition of the Permanent 
Settlement. In the circumstances, "no Ministry or Legislature 
in Bengal" should consider or pass any Bill for the repeal of 
the Settlement of 1793, and even if it chooses to do so, it 
cannot be assented to by His Majesty in Council as the condition 
of "public support", contemplated by the Joint Parliamentary 
Committee, would be absent. This point of view should not be 
lost sight of, as has been done in the Report, in assessing the 
constitutional position in the matter of "alteration" of the 
character of the Permanent Settlement in Bengal. 

38. " Minority community". There is another aspect of 
the question that the landowning community belongs to a 
minority community, and as such the protection of its legitimate 
interests may fall within the "special responsibilities" of 
Governor (section 52 of the Government of India Act, 1937). 
The Constitution Act does not define "minorities". The Joint 
Parliamentary Committee in their paragraph 79 state: 
' 'There are certainly other well-defined sections of the 
population who may from time to time require protection, and 
we see no justification for defining the expression for the 
purpose of excluding them." The Instruments of Instructions 
defined minorities in a very general way so that the Governor- 
General, or the Governor as the case may be, will have "latitude 



222 

in his interpretation of his responsibilities' 5 , and accordingly 
provided that "those classes who, whether on account of the 
smallness of their number or their lack of education or material 
advantages or from any other cause cannot as yet fully rely 
for their welfare on joint political action in the legislature, 
shall not suffer, or have reasonable cause to fear neglect or 
oppression". Landlords are given special representation and 
therein lay recognition of their separate entity; they represent 
an economic order; they are " small in number" in the 
legislature; they cannot "as yet fully rely for their welfare on 
joint political action in the legislature". Hence, their 
legitimate interests are entitled to protection under 52(1) (&) 
of the Constitution Act when there is "neglect or oppression". 
In this view of things, this also forms a constitutional check 
on tampering with private rights in agricultural land. 

39. Acquisition of zamindaries. The Report states 
"We have considered the arguments on both sides, and 
think that the best course would be to carry through 
in the first instance the acquisition of all superior 
rights down to the lowest grade of cash paying under- 
raiyat" (Paragraph 114). We deal, in brief, with 
the criticisms of the above recommendation. 

(1) Bengal raiyats better situated. The recommendation 
does not follow from their findings. In the raiyatwari area of 
Madras, the Commission have found: (1) the assessment on the 
'Vet'' land 1 works out at between Rs. 7 and Rs. 8 per acre, 
(2) the sub-tenants in Madras pay higher rates of rent than the 
average paid by under-raiyats in Bengal, (3) considering the 
average area per family in relation to the yield of crops, Madras 
is worse off than Bengal, (4) the incidence of indebtedness is 
higher. In the Punjab where peasant proprietorship exists, 
they have found (1) the policy of the Government since 1928 
has been to assess the proprietor at one-fourth of his net assets, 
(2) the great majority of the tenants are tenants-at-will, who 
pay half the crop and have no rights whatever, (3) the Punjab 
cultivator has to work harder for his living than the Bengal 
cultivator, (4) agricultural debt in the Punjab is extremely 
heavy. In the United Provinces where temporary settlement 
prevails, they have found that (1) no class of tenants in the 
temporarily settled area has transferable rights; (2) subletting 
by tenants is restricted to a period of five years; (3) the average 

l lf the Madras system were applied to Bengal, the rate for "wet" land would be 
generally applicable to the aman growing land and the higher land growing jute, tobacco, 
sugarcane, aus, and other crops ?,nd to the dofasli area. (Paragraph 175 of the Report of 
the Commission.) 



223 

rate of rent for all classes of tenant is Rs. 6 per acre; (4) canal 
irrigation is not extensive and where it is absent, the crops are 
watered from wells which have to be sunk at the expense or by 
the labour of the tenants. With regard to Bengal, the 
Commissioners have found (1) the rayati rental is low, 
representing one-fifteenth of the value of produce (that is, 
Rs. 3-5 per acre), (2) the Bengal raiyats have the greatest 
measure of rights, (3) the cultivators of Bengal are, as a whole, 
better off than those in Madras and the United Provinces, (4) 
the Bengal raiyats and even under-raiyats are better off than 
tenants under peasant proprietors of the Punjab in respect of 
rents and rights. Thus it is clear that no case has been made 
out for the abolition of the Permanent Settlement. The 
arguments advanced in the Report of the Commission militate 
completely against its proposal. The position of raiyats in 
other provinces does not compare favourably with the situation 
obtaining in Bengal. On the other hand, raiyats in other 
provinces are definitely in worse condition. The very fact 
that the Bengal raiyat can sublet his holding at a profit 
clearly demonstrates that he is not rack-rented by the landlord. 

(2) Khas mahal areas of Bengal. Though there is 
raiyatwari system in Madras, temporary settlement in United 
Provinces and peasant proprietorship in the Punjab, the 
condition of raiyats in none of these provinces is better than 
that of the raiyats in Bengal. In the Government khas mahal 
areas in Bengal, raiyats are not better situated than those of 
the permanently settled areas. On the other hand, the 
incidence of rent in the khas mahals is much higher than in 
the permanently settled areas. The enhancement of rent is 
more regular, and although the raiyat receives remission at 
times on the ground of failure of crops, etc., the realisation 
being more regular and strict, he can be said to be in worse 
position than the raiyat in the zamindari area where landlords 
remain satisfied with one year's rent allowing at least 3 years 
to be in arrears. In times of distress it is almost an invariable 
practice to allow arrear rents of some years to get time-barred 
which is better than remission. 

The sanitary condition of the khas mahal areas and the 
economic condition of the tenants also are by no means better 
than those of tenants in the permanently settled areas. 
Government as landlord has not allowed greater educational 
facilities to their tenants than zamindars. Similar is the case 
with regard to communications, irrigation, and drainage also. 
The khas mahal areas can by no stretch of imagination be 
considered more advanced than the zamindari areas. It may 



224 

be mentioned that there are large and compact khas mahal 
areas in Bengal such as in Noakhali, Bakarganj, Chittagong 
and part of 24-Parganas and Khulna. 

(3) Financial implications. On financial grounds also the 
abolition of the Permanent Settlement cannot be justified. It 
is becoming clear that on political expediency it will not be 
possible to enhance the raiyati rent, and there is every risk of 
the reduction of rent being made a subject of electioneering 
propaganda. If reduction of rent is at all taken up, the rent 
in the Government khas mahal areas which has been enhanced 
during the last 15 years will have to be reduced first. 
Realisation is bound to be precarious. On political grounds 
large remissions will have to be granted and larger amount 
will have to be sanctioned for agricultural loans and 
gratuitous relief and their realisation will be by no means 
easy. In 1938-39 and 1939-40 Government had to sanction 
over 94 lakhs of rupees by way of agricultural loan of which 
amount not more than 6^ lakhs has been realised up till 31st 
of January 1940. In Madras large amounts had to be 
granted by way of remission. All these go to show that the 
tendency is for reduction of the raiyat's rent at the sacrifice 
of the State revenue. The Burdwan Canal rate movement 
in Bengal also supports this contention. Government had to 
reduce the rate of tax from Rs. 5-8 to Rs. 2-9. In fact, there 
has been a demand for rent reduction in the legislature and 
a Rent Reduction Enquiry Committee has been appointed at 
the instance of tenants' representatives to investigate the 
possibilities of reduction of rent in the country. 

(4) Doubtful prospect of gain. The calculation about 
additional income through State purchase is open to serious 
doubt and may not stand strict scrutiny. The additional 
incoAie after meeting the interest charges on the loan and 
sinking fund charges is most unlikely and will not lead to the 
increase in the spending power of Government. Abolition of 
the Permanent Settlement may upset the most stable source 
of the Province, viz., the land revenue. Stamp revenue will 
decrease by one crore. The income now devoted to religious, 
charitable and educational endowments will not be available to 
general revenue (Vide Paragraph 105 of the Report). This 
might amount to at least 1/2 crore. 

The income from fisheries is included in assets of the 
Province but the cost of acquiring them has been omitted as 
the income from fisheries is not known. All this will wash 
away the estimated gain. Assuming for the sake of argument 
that there will be a small margin, is it worth while to abolish 



225 

the Permanent Settlement for that small additional income 
which can never be sufficient for undertaking rural 
development works on a large scale? In the raiyatwari area 
of Madras and in the Punjab, the cost of Governmental 
collection involves greater expenditure, whereas in Bengal, 
the major portion is permanently settled and Government have 
not to undertake the expenses of collection. Considering the 
Government expenses of collection and the high incidence of 
rent in the other provinces of Madras and the Punjab and the 
low raiyati rental in Bengal, the land revenue demand in 
Bengal, which is assured and not liable to remissions, cannot 
be considered a financial loss. The so-called high figure of 
land revenue demand in other provinces has been built on 
greater areas cultivated and the high incidence of rent. The 
other economic advantages of the Permanent Settlement do 
not also exist there. 

(5) The economic effect. The recommendation of the 
majority of the Commission is for the State-purchase of the 
interests of all grades of rent-receiving classes. Apart from 
the fact that it will take many years before the scheme can be 
completed, the economic effect of the proposal on the Province 
should be seriously considered. The recommendation of 
State-purchase will not merely affect the rich zamindars or 
tenure-holders but practically all interests in land in the 
Province. The rate of compensation suggested by the 
Commission will, on their own admission (Paragraph 138), 
reduce the income of a person by 50 per cent, or more. 

(6) Extent of expropriation. The following examples 
are given to indicate the extent of expropriation involved in 
the scheme, adumbrated in the Report: 

(A) A zamindar has a gross rental of Rs. 10 lakhs. 
If he pays land revenue and cesses to the tune of 5 lakhs, 
his income is reduced half. The cost of collection does not 
exceed 10 per cent, of his income. Thus his net income is 
Rs. 4 lakhs. Under the scheme of State-purchase 
recommended in the Report, his existing income will be 
considerably reduced. 

Gross rental Rs. 10 lakhs. 

Revenue and cesses Rs. 5 lakhs. 

Cost of collection 18 per cent., that is, (Rs. 180 

thousand). 
The net income Rs. 320 thousand. 

Compensation being calculated at 10 times the net profit and 
at 4 per cent, bond as suggested the annual income of the 

16 



226 

zamindar will be Rs. 128 thousand in place of his existing 
net income of Rs. 4 lakhs (with 10 per cent, as collection 
charges) or of Rs. 320 thousand (even if the cost of collection 
be taken at the unduly inflated rate of 18 per cent.). Thus 
there is a reduction of his net income by 75 per cent, or more. 

If compensation is calculated at 12 times and at 4 per cent., 
the annual income will be Rs. 153*5 thousand; at 15 times, 
the annual income will be Rs. 192 thousand. 

(B) A small tenure-holder has a gross rental of Rs. 1,000 

Rent and cesses Rs. 300. 

Cost of collection Rs. 100 (at 10 per cent.). 

Net income Rs. 600. 
Under the scheme of State-purchase 

Compensation at 10 times the net profit Rs. 6,000. 

4 per cent. Bond Rs. 240. 
Thus the annual income will be Rs. 240 in place of Rs. 600. 

Compensation at 12 times the net profit Rs. 7,200. 

4 per cent. Bond Rs. 288. 
Thus the annual income will be Rs. 288 in place of Rs. 600. 

Compensation at 15 times the net profit Rs. 9,000. 

4 per cent. Bond Rs. 300. 

Thus the annual income will be Rs. 360 in place of Rs. 600. 
(C) An occupancy raiyat who has an income of Rs. 100 
through subletting to under-raiyats. 

Rent and cesses consume Rs. 40. 

Normally his cost of collection does not exceed 2 per cent. 
But under the scheme of State-purchase, the cost of collection 
to be deducted is likely to be more than the real expenses. 
Suppose, it will be 10 per cent. The net income will be Rs. 50 
(Rs. 100 gross rental minus Rs. 40 as rent and cesses minus 
Rs. 10 as cost of collection). 

Compensation at 10 times Rs. 500. 

4 per cent. Bond Rs. 20. 

Thus he will have an annual income of Rs. 20 in place of his 
existing income of Rs. 50. 

Compensation at 12 times Rs. 600. 

4 per cent. Bond Rs. 24. 
The annual income will be Rs. 24 in place of Rs. 50. 

Compensation at 15 times Rs. 750 

4 per cent. Bond Rs. 30. 



227 

The annual income will be Es. 30 in place of Rs. 50. The 
examples cited above will go to show the extent of expropriation 
involved in the scheme of State-purchase recommended in the 
Report. The consequences of State-purchase will, therefore, 
be economically disastrous; it will affect the purchasing powers 
of the upper class, middle class and the lower middle class and 
this deterioration is bound to reflect on the customs and income- 
tax receipts. 

(7) The number of persons to be expropriated. The area 
in possession of all classes of raiyats in Bengal is 28 million 
acres and the portion sublet by them to under-raiyats is 3-1 
million acres. The Census Report gives the following informa- 
tion 

Non-cultivating proprietors taking rent in money or kind 
783 thousand. 

Estate agents and managers of private owners 1 thousand. 
Rent collectors, clerks, etc. 51 thousand. 

It is well-known that the non-cultivating proprietors have a 
large number of working and non- working dependants. Every 
non-cultivating proprietor, as our experience goes, has ten to 
fifty dependants in proportion to the extent of his income, 
family tradition and instinct of patronage. The estate agents 
and managers and rent-collectors have also dependants. To 
strike out an average will be hazardous and speculative. But 
considering the fact that there are more than 1 lakh revenue 
paying estates and 27 lakh tenures, the number of rent-receivers 
and the persons dependant on them will easily exceed 1 crore. 
Under the scheme of State-purchase, as contemplated in the 
Report, the zamindars, tenure-holders, and the rent-receiving 
raiyats will be expropriated. Thus, it may be roughly 
estimated that the number of persons involved in the scheme of 
expropriation (as the State-purchase of the kind contemplated 
involves expropriation on the admission made in the Report, 
vide paragraph 138) will be more than 15 million, that is, 
nearly one-third of the entire population (which is recorded at 
50 million) . 

(8) Repercussions on society. The abolition of landlords 
will mean disintegration of social classes, and there will be a 
collapse in rural society, as the incentive of the landowning 
community (in which there is a vast number of people having 
varying degrees of social utility and economic strength) to reside 
in the countryside, where he has exercised in greater or less 
degree functions of leadership and control, will be gone. 



228 

If private landlordism is abolished and a strict raiyatwari 
system established, the institution of private mahajans will 
suffer a setback, and the loan needs of the agriculturists of 
Bengal, which -are considerable, are to be met principally by 
agencies, controlled or subsidised by Government. 

The disappearance of the landowning community will mean 
immediate withdrawal of recurring grants (for which they have 
no legal obligations) to all charitaole, educational and other 
welfare institutions of the country. This will dislocate the 
existing order and increase manifold the responsibilities of 
Government. The State-purchase will take away the interest 
of the whole landowning community in the regeneration of the 
countryside, and in times of famine and distress this will involve 
greater responsibilities for Government whose resources will be 
inadequate to meet the necessary expenses. 

Those who are conversant with the cultural history of Bengal 
know full well that art, literature and music have prospered 
under the aegis of the landowning community, and this 

Eatronage will disappear along with the abolition of private 
indlordism. The Permanent Settlement in Bengal is not 
merely a financial transaction; it has gone deep down in the 
economic and social structure of the country, and its 
replacement is fraught with grave consequences and will involve 
widespread repercussions in various spheres. 

(9) The political effect. The political effect of State- 
purchase is extremely important. It will make a large number 
of people landless without any stake in the country. People 
given inadequate compensation will become discontented and as 
such a source of menace to society. The number of people who 
will be affected will be very large. They are politically 
powerful, vocal and the backbone of the country. Land means 
not merely income but position, stake and responsibility. These 
annuitants losing touch with and interest in land and also in 
the stability of the societarian basis will tend to be irresponsible. 
This would accelerate the pace of communism in the country 
which is, let us hope, not the wish of the members of the 
Commission advocating the State-purchase of zamindaries. 

(10) Findings militate against proposal. The State- 
purchase presents another difficulty. Its manifest purpose is 
to bring Government into direct relation with the actual tiller. 

Unless transferability of land can be stopped the actual tiller 
and Government can never be faced. The Report admits the 
difficulties and suggests State-purchase after every 30 or 40 
years "if it were not possible to prevent the processes of 
subinfeudation and transfer to non-agriculturists". Similarly, 



229 

fragmentation of holdings due to sale, partition and law of 
succession cannot be prevented. It is admitted that the scheme 
of State-purchase cannot be effectively pursued and it will 
necessitate "expropriation" every 30 or 40 years a contingency 
which is sufficient to condemn the scheme. Moreover, the 
scheme of State-purchase is recommended without any forward 
agricultural policy. The need for the extinction of the existing 
private landlords is not, therefore, well established. It is 
admitted in the Report that the unsatisfactory economic 
condition of the tenantry is due to social and economic causes 
and not to private landlordism. The remedy, therefore, lies 
elsewhere and not in the abolition of the Permanent Settlement. 
The conclusion arrived at by the Commission is not supported 
by facts and does riot follow from their findings. The agrarian 
discontent of acute type amongst the tenantry in the United 
Provinces and Bihar (although the United Provinces is a 
temporarily settled area and there is much less subinfeudation 
in Bihar) shows that Bengal landlords have been able to 
maintain the land system at a more satisfactory level. 

40. Evidence against State-purchase. The evidence placed 
before the Commission has not been generally in favour of the 
nationalisation of zamindaries. Extracts from the evidence 
of. a few representative witnesses will make the position clear. 

(a) Evidence of the Finance Department. The Finance 
Department of the Government of Bengal stated as follows: 

(i) "The Permanent Settlement and the consequences 
flowing from it are now the frame-work of the 
general economic life of the country, and in the 
considered opinion of the Government, no tampering 
with that frame-work could, in the long run, 
produce financial gain to the State." 

(ii) "The Department holds the view that the abolition of 
the Permanent Settlement would throw the social 
system out of gear and may not be conducive to the 
financial welfare of the Province." 

(Hi) "The abolition of the Permanent Settlement would be 
a financial speculation which would nrobably result 
in little gain." 

(b) Khan Bahadur A. Rahman. "He doubted whether the 
change to state landlordism would not result in the tenants 

going from the frying pan to the fire He thought that to 

buy out the landlords and tenure-holders would create a 
disturbance in the present social order which he did not favour 
...He apprehended, however, tha^ if the landlords and 



230 

tenure-holders were bought out, the increased revenue might 
not be allowed to improvements in rural areas." (Evidence of 
Khan Bahadur Ataur Rahman.) 

(c) Mr. W. H. Nelson. Mr. W. H. Nelson, C.I.E., i.c.s., 
Member, Board of Revenue, Bengal, gave the following opinion 
on the question: (1) the landlords nave played an important 
part in the general development of Bengal since the Permanent 
Settlement, (2) the State-purchase is hazardous and it is 
impossible to obliterate the results of a system lasting for a 
century and a half, (3) no happier state of things would ensue 
and the State has no right to buy out a zamindar who is no(t 
willing to sell, (4) financially it would be a most inadvisable 
proposition and it would almost certainly result in a loss. 

(d) Mr. F. W. Robertson. Mr. F. W. Robertson, C.I.E., 
i.c.s., Chairman, Public Service Commission, gave the following 
opinion: 

(i) It is doubtful whether the raiyats would prefer to come 
under Government or that khas mahal raiyats enjoy 
any advantages over raiyats in private zamindar ies, 
(ii) the abolition of landlords would have an 
unfortunate effect on the social structure of the 
Province. 

(e) Mr. A. E. Porter. Mr. A. E. Porter, i.c.s. (Collector, 
Tippera), opined as follows: (i) the zamindars have made 
large contributions to charity ; they have provided a great part 
of the money spent on education and on medical facilities in 
towns and in the country; they contribute liberally to appeals 
for charitable purposes and they have spent large sums in 
religious endowments; (ii) the State-purchase would for a long 
time yield no effective increase in revenue to the State and would 
allow very little scope for the reduction of raiyati rents where 
these are inequitably high. 

(f) Mr. M. M. Stuart. Mr. M. M. Stuart, i.c.s., pointed 
out as follows: (i) it does not seem that even by expropriation 
the country is likely to be benefited, as it is a mistake to suppose 
that all the extra rent would then find its way into the 
Government coffers; (ii) if the State became the sole landlord, 
there was a danger that rent would become a question of 
politics, and if the rents were decreased, the surplus income 
from land revenue might Disappear in the course of a few years. 

(g) Majority of opinions against State-purchase. We do 
not propose to burden our Report with extracts of the above 
kind which suspect the wisdom of State-purchase of 
zamindaries. The majority of the opinions received were in 



231 

favour of reforming the land system within the framework of 
the Permanent Settlement, although the majority of the 
members of the Commission thought otherwise in disregard of 
the evidence. 

Mr. W H. Nelson, Member, Board of Revenue, Bengal, 
was of opinion that the principal gainers from the Permanent 
Settlement were the raiyats and not the zainindars. Had there 
been no Permanent Settlement, raiyats would have been paying 
a higher average rent. In his opinion the raiyat appropriates 
about 80 per cent, of the unearned increment; out of the balance 
of 20 per cent., the zemindar gets about 70 and the State 30 
per cent. Messrs. Nelson and F. W. Robertson were also of 
opinion that there has not been any great enhancement of 
raiyati rents. The Bar Associations were unanimously opposed 
to the proposal of State-purchase. Sir N. R. Chatterjee, Rai 
Bahadur B. B. Mukherjee, Rai Bahadur M. N. Gupta, Rai 
Bahadur K. P. Maitra, Rai Bahadur J. N. Sircar all of them 
are experts in revenue matters and were against the 
nationalisation of agricultural lands. 

All the Landholders' Associations were unanimous that the 
abolition of the zamindari system would involve a revolution 
in the social and economic life of the people. Sir N. R. 
Chatterjee, Mr. F. W. Robertson, Rai Bahadur B. B. 
Mukherjee, Rai Bahadur M. N. Gupta, Rai Bahadur K. P. 
Maitra, Rai Bahadur J. N. Sircar, the People's Association 
of Dacca, the Muslim Federation of Dacca, the Middle Class 
Association of Mymensingh, the Hindu and Brahman Sabhas, 
and all the Bar Associations (except the Pabna Bar) held the 
same view. 

The members of the Commission might have arrived at a 
true reading of the situation if they had conducted some tours 
in Bengal instead of visiting other provinces having different 
and differing conditions, but they did not. They were guided 
by political considerations, and the interests of the country, as 
a whole, were neglected. 

41. State-purchase hazardous. Whilst one may agree 
theoretically to dogmas and political slogans in favour of the 
abolition of the Permanent Settlement, it is only meet and 
proper to consider what are likely to be the consequences of 
such a step. In Bengal we think it would be both impractical 
and hazardous for the following reasons: 

(a) Financial strength of Province. The Province cannot 
afford it financially, especially as the deal must be a fair one 
and the compensation to be paid must.be according to the laws 



232 

of equity and justice and not expropriator y. There is no reason 
to ignore in this matter the provisions of the Land Acquisition 
Act which needs careful study and examination. The Finance 
Department of the Government of Bengal has given us facts 
and figures which make the venture extremely hazardous. 
Without the guarantee of the Government of India, Bonds or 
any kind of paper money will be viewed with suspicion and 
not be acceptable unless thev had the same effect and security 
as the Government of India Promissory Notes. That 
emphasises the need of purchase with cash-money. 

(&) Taxation Enquiry Committee's findings. Then again 
supposing it was financially feasible, there is a distinct risk in 
its resulting as a cause for rack-renting the actual tenant by 
fresh taxation to meet the liquidation o? loans as may have to 
bo raised for State-purchase and for future improvements of 
agriculture, possibilities of which were at the back of the minds 
of the members of the Indian Taxation Enquiry Committee 
when they made an adverse comment on State-purchase in 
paragraph 99 of their Report. The Indian Taxation Enquiry 
Committee clearly stated 

" These schemes must fail if for no other reason, by reason 

of the enormous financial operations involved 

It would be impossible to recover even the interest 
charge on this loan without levying from the actual 
cultivators who would be left face to face with 
Government, something in the nature of a full rack- 
rent, so that as a result, neither the Government, nor 
the actual cultivator would be better off than at 
present/ 5 

(c) Government management unpopular. Is the present 
system of Government khas mahal management in Bengal so 
popular that it would be universally acceptable to all political 
parties in the Province? If not, will Government becoming the 
only landlord be welcome? 

Government management will entail frequenter survey arid 
settlement operations as record-of-rights will have to be kept 
up more regularly and carefully than at present. Are the 
people likely^ to submit to this ? 

Government management is costly and will, therefore, mean 
a larger outlay in capital expenditure as well as a large increase 
of a recurring nature in the permanent establishment charges. 

(d) Certainty of land revenue disturbed. In years of 
famine and failure of crops the legislature will demand larger 
remissions of revenue than at present in consequence of which 
the receipts from land revenue will become so fluctuating that 



233 

the Province may run the risk of bankruptcy at Government 
not being able to realise, which it now does even in lean years, 
almost cent, per cent, of its land revenue demand from the 
landholders under the sunset law. It appears to us, therefore, 
that venturing on State-purchase would be economically 
unsound and politically undesirable, 

(e) Extinction of middle classes. To make extinct the 
great landholders in the Province may not be so difficult, 
although they might deserve greater consideration as they and 
their ancestors contributed in no small measure in the past to 
the establishment of many of the charitable and educational 
institutions to be found in the Province to-day. But with the 
disappearance of all intermediary landlords, who have formed 
the backbone of the Province, and the intelligentia and are the 
creators of modern social and political Bengal, we shall be 
running the definite risk of a social upheaval of a magnitude 
which requires very careful thought, for with an undeveloped 
Proja Party and Raiyats' Associations we might easily 
usher in communism which would become a menace to the State 
itself. The Province is not ready for such a revolutionary step 
and that is why we consider the proposal of State-purchase as 
unsound in practice, premature and inopportune. 

42. General observations. The scheme of State-purchase 
is, to our minds, at once rash and bad. Rash, because when 
there are many schemes by which agricultural improvements 
in the Province could be carried out by floating loans which 
could probably be at once over-subscribed, it is fantastic to 
suggest that the Government of Bengal should venture upon 
the very large and hazardous scheme of loans to buy up 
zamindaries, etc. Such a scheme is very doubtful of success 
or financial possibility. Bad, because land will continue to be 
as ever the most tempting investment and as such any attempt 
to get rid of the present class of landlords and to substitute 
them eventually by a new class who will have no traditions 
behind them would be, in our opinion, both unjustifiable and 
dangerous. 

If any one has got any grievance against the working of 
the Permanent Settlement it is the zamindars, and it seems 
to us, therefore, that this desire to eliminate the landholding 
classes is only in the minds of a small minority in the Province 
who without due consideration of the consequences want to 
plunge Government into a large amount of financial 
embarrassment. 

If we, however, study this idea of State-purchase in Bengal 
we cannot but come to the conclusion that it is an act of 



234 

liighhanded expropriation, rather than a desire to improve the 
land revenue system prevalent in the Province. Individual 
zamindars might be accused of failing to live up to the full to 
their public duties and responsibilities as the extremist 
politicians in India generally charge them with, but they have 
done nothing to their tenantry to be victimised by a proposal 
which stands condemned in itself. To revolutionise the land 
system in Bengal is not only uncalled for but unwarrantable. 
It would only mean encouraging socialism and communism of 
:a kind which is not salutary for the Province. 

We vehemently oppose the proposal of State-purchase of all 
-zamindaries in Bengal not only for the reasons which we 
have adduced elsewhere but also because apart from its 
impracticability it would mean a financial strain on, if not a 
financial debacle of, the resources of the Province which is 
anything but a prosperous one at the moment. Moreover, 
such a scheme is fantastic when a great European war is in 
progress. 

43. Principles of compensation followed. In the matter 
of assessing compensation, the Report has formulated the 
following principles: 

(1) The provision for extra compensation for the compul- 

sory nature of the acquisition involved in the scheme 
of State-purchase should not be allowed. 

(2) There should be a flat rate for all interests, and for all 

kinds of estates large or small estates, permanent 
or temporary tenures, tenures at fixed rates or 
liable to enhancement. 

'(3) The compensation should be calculated on the net 
profit. 

The rate of compensation has been pitched so low as to 
reduce the existing incomes of landlords. The above principles 
^are neither fair nor sound; the principles of the valuation of 
agricultural land are completely ignored. 

(a) Professor Pigou's "principles. Professor Pigou in his 
"Public Finance" advocates the following principles in the 
matter of compulsory acquisition of private property: 

(1) Equity asserts that "similar persons should be treated 

similarly' '. 

(2) "We must content ourselves with such rough justice 

as is afforded by the payment of something, say 10 
per cent., in excess of market value as compensation 
for disturbance." 



235 

The Report disregards both the principles advocated by 
Professor Pigou, the distinguished Economist of the Cambridge 
School. Even in recommending State-purchase of zamindaries 
and calculation of the probable incomes therefrom, the Report 
has evidently attached no value to expert knowledge. 

(b) Principles advocated by the Finance Department. The 
Finance Department of the Government of Bengal submitted 
before the Commission as follows regarding the award of 
compensation : 

(1) If a fair capitalisation basis of compensation be 

accepted, there cannot be any profit to the 
Government out of the purchase. 

(2) Even if bonds were given as compensation and issued 

at the market price, it would be necessary to pay 
the full capitalised value of the net profit. The 
capitalised value at the present Reserve Bank rate 
of interest would be 33 times the net profit. 

These observations were made with full knowledge and 
responsibility but they were not heeded by the majority of 
members as their object was to show increased receipts under 
land revenue demand in the event of the nationalisation of 
zamindaries. The repercussions in other spheres have not been 
i'ully taken note of. Their calculations naturally, therefore, 
suffer from incompleteness. 

(c) Majority opinions rejected. The Report records that 
"the majority of the witnesses were in favour of following the 
principles laid down in the Land Acquisition Manual" 
(Paragraph 101) but concludes that they have been unable to 
reach an agreement on the rate of compensation that would 
be equitable. This admitted indifference to the evidence of 
"the majority of witnesses" is, indeed, painful reading. 

44. Inadequate compensation. The adopted basis of 
compensation at 10 or 12 or 15 times the net profit is definitely 
less than the basis of compensation under the Land Acquisition 
Act. It is also less than the basis of compensation to be paid 
by holders of estate for redemption of land revenue which is 
30 times the revenue to be paid. It is also less than the basis 
adopted by the -:.;; \\'y members themselves for the public 
religious and charitable endowments which has been accepted 
at 25 times their income, if interest is taken at 4 per cent. It 
does not thus guarantee the existing incomes of landlords and 
we have illustrated this fully in paragraph 39 (6). That the 



236 

landlord's claim to full compensation is undoubtedly just is 
acknowledged by economists who have faith in the sanctity of 
private property. 

(a) Professor Side/ wick's principles. Professor Sidgwick 
accordingly urged that "the general security of property seems 
to be sufficiently maintained, if every landowner who is 
expropriated receives from Government in full what the value 
of his land ^ould have amounted to apart from the special 
need that is the occasion of the expropriation. And in 
applying this principle we must of course treat the rights of 
temporary occupiers similarly to those of owners, and include 
along with the land any buildings or other 'immovable* 
products of labour that may be attached to the land". 

As the "whole value of thing" can hardly be estimated and 
the subjective element of value (that is, the value derived from 
attachment or association or peculiar taste) is difficult to be 
measured, Professor Sidgwick was in favour of applying an 
average outside standard, and recommended that "some 
compensation should be given for the special subjective value 
of a thing to its expropriated owners". 

(b) A ccepted principle of compensation. It is the difficulties 
of valuation that lead economists and statesmen to fix the rate 
of compensation at the rent charge multiplied by a number 
of years. The most accepted principle is that the compensation 
money granted to expropriated landlords should, at the present 
market rate of interest, represent the net rent receivable for 
the zamindari in question. This principle has been advocated 
in the Report of the Liberal Land Committee, England 
(1923-24). The Committee further said 

"We have obtained a mass of information of farm sales 
effected in the years 1913, 1918, 1919, 1922 and 1924 
in different countries of England and Wales. We find 
that the average for the five years taken together is 
in the case of different countries 21 years, 23, years, 
22 years, etc. Be it observed these figures represent 
so many years' purchase not at actual income, but 
at gross rent. On the basis of the calculation, 25 
years' gross rent is equivalent to 38 years' net rent." 

Mr. Fawcett in his "Political Economy" writes: "Nothing 
in our opinion can be more unjust than for the State to take 
possession of land without paying the full market price to its 
owners." And he favoured the rate of compensation at 30 
years' purchase. Mr. Mill, who was a radical thinker of 
England and advocated that "the claim of the landlords is 



237 

altogether subordinated to the general policy of the State", 
did agree, that their (landlords') claim to compensation was 
''indefeasible", and that it was due to landowners and to 
owners of any property whatever, recognised as such by the 
State, and "that they should not be dispossessed of it without 
receiving its full pecuniary value or an annual income equal 
to what they derived from it". Thus the rate of compensation 
should be governed in a way so that the respective landlords 
may be assured of "the annual income equal to what they 
derived from it". 

(c) Examples from gross and net income. To arrive at a 
scientific, fair and approved rate of compensation, the following 
considerations should be taken into account, e.g. : 

A holding has a gross rental of Rs. 100. 

If the market rate of interest is calculated at 4 per cent, 
the above holding should bring the landlord Rs. 2,500 (so that 
the rental of Rs. 100 may be assured to the landlord at the 
given rate of interest), that would be 25 years' purchase of 
the gross rent. In this case, the purchase-money wherever 
invested would be liable to the income-tax and oilier existing 
burdens of the State. 

If the landlord is to be assured only of the net income, it 
may be calculated thus 

Rs. 100 as gross rental. 

One-third as revenue (or rent) and cesses and other 
necessary expenses Rs. 66-J-. The purchase price (at the given 
rate of 4 per cent, interest) would also be 25 years' purchase 
of the net income. The annual income of the landlord should 
then in fairness be free from income-tax or other burdens of 
the State. 

If the net income of landlords are to be ascertained, there 
would be variations in each particular estate. Accordingly, 
the basis generally taken in calculating the rate of compensation 
is the gross rental of the holding. The above fair principles 
are formulated so that landlords may not feel that they are 
being expropriated. The social injustice, born of such 
expropriation, is definitely prejudicial for the interests of the 
whole community. 

45. Example of Ireland. Ireland offers a recent example 
within the British Commonwealth of Nations where the 
nationalisation of agricultural lands has been completely 
carried out. This was done before the Irish Free State Treaty 
was proclaimed in 1922. Although the principle of State- 
purchase was accepted in Ireland in 1871, the Wyndham Act 



238 

of 1903 was the culmination of the land-purchase measures. 
The governing principles of the Wyndham Act were the 
following: 

(a) The landlord was obliged to sell an estate 1 . 

(6) The purchase-price of a holding with a first-term rent 2 
would vary from 18^ to 24^ years' purchase of the 
rent and in the case of second-term rent, the price 
would vary from 21^ and 27^ years' purchase. 

(c) The cash-bonus to be given to the landlord was 12 per 

cent, upon the sale-price. 

(d) The rate of annuity was fixed at 3^ per cent., of which 

2| per cent, constituted the interest charge and 
^ per cent, as sinking fund payment, the principal 
being wiped out in 68^ years. 

In Ireland the principle was to make peasants proprietors 
of land and accordingly the State advanced money for the 
purchase of the holdings. 

The Wyndham Act was slightly amended by the Birrell 
Act, 1909, whereunder the cash-bonus was graduated in 
accordance with the sale-price. We give below the arrange- 
ments contemplated under the Act of 1909: 

First-term rents. Second -term rents. Bonus (in per cent.). 

26 years' purchase or more. 24 years' purchase or more. No bonus. 

Between 25 and 26 Between 23 and 24 3 

24 and 25 22 and 23 4 



23 and 24 
22 and 23 
21 and 22 
20 and 21 
19 and 20 
18 and 19 



21 and 22 6 

20 and 21 8 

19 and 20 10 

18 and 19 12 

17 and 18 14 

16 and 17 16 



Under 18 Under 16 18 

We have recited all this to show that the rate of compensation 
suggested in the Report of the Bengal Land Revenue 
Commission is nothing short of confiscation; and in fact, they 
have accepted no scientific principle with regard to 
compensation of landlords. The tenor of the Report is that 
they would have been glad to "confiscate" in full landlords, if 
the Government of India Act, 1935, did not stand in the way. 

*Under the former purchase Acts, sales were carried out by individual holdings with the 
Land Commission acting as intermediary between the parties. If the estate is taken, 
the grave economic blemishes such as uneconomic holdings and others can be removed 
before handing over to the peasants. 

2 The variation in the purchase of first -term and second -term rents was fair because 
on the average second-term rents were about 20 per cent, less than first-term rents. 



239 

46. Confiscatory nature of the scheme. That the scheme* 
of compensation, contemplated in the Report, is nothing but 
confiscatory can be had from the enunciation of the following 
principles: 

(a) That the rate of compensation suggested is 10 times 
or 12 times or 15 times the net profit, the 10 times 
being preferred, and the existing net incomes of 
landlords being thus reduced by more than 50 per 
cent. 

(&) That the net profit is to be calculated by deducting 
land revenue or rent and cesses and 18 per cent, 
as the cost of collection which is unduly inflated 1 
and even higher than the Governmental cost of 
management. (It may be noted that the Civil: 
Courts do not allow more than 10 per cent, as cost 
of collection.) 

(c) That the above rate of compensation should be a flat 

rate for all interests and for all kinds of estateSv 

(d) That there is no guarantee that the purchase price- 

that would go to landlords should be free from any: 
income-tax or other burdens of the State. 

47. Suggested lines of nationalisation. Should the scheme 
of -nationalisation, however, be pursued at all, with which we 
are not in agreement from wide national considerations, the 
following should be adopted to ensure a sense of fairness to 
the parties concerned: 

(a) The scheme of nationalisation should be pursued with 

a view to bring and maintain "the actual cultivators, 
into direct relation with Government ", a* 
proposition supported theoretically in the Report. 
The interests of zamindars and tenure-holders- 
cannot be acquired unless it is proposed to remove- 
rent-receiving raiyats. 

(b) The rate of compensation should be such as to- 

guarantee the existing net income of landlords^ 
and it should therefore be at least 20 times the 
rental at 5 per cent, interest. 

(c) Payment would be made in cash and not in bonds and 

the scheme should not be carried out simultaneously. 
(These are accepted by the Report.) If the- 
payment be paid in bonds, they should be 
guaranteed by the Government of India and should* 
carry interest at 5 per cent, free from income-tax. 



240 

(d) The arrear rents which constitute the reserve fund of 

landlords should be compensated for at least in 
two- thirds. 

(e) The khas lands of proprietors and. tenure-holders 

including those cultivated by bargadars should not 
be included in the scheme of State-purchase, 
if raiyats in respect of their barga lands remain 
unaffected. All rent-receivers should be equally 
treated. 

(/) If bargadars are treated as tenants, as recommended 
in the Report, there is no logic in excluding them 
from the scheme of State-purchase. Accordingly, 
bargadars should be brought under Government at 
the same time as the lowest cash-paying under- 
raiyats. The scheme of State-purchase, if adopted, 
should not be pursued piecemeal. 

48. Fishery and mineral rights. The Land Revenue 
Commission has not thought fit to confine themselves to their 
terms of reference. The manifest scope of their enquiry was 
limited to agricultural lands. It is to be noted that incomes 
from fishery rights by zamindars are subject to the Indian 
Income-tax Act; the incomes are, therefore, non-agricultural. 
The Commission have gone beyond their terms of reference in 
considering the nationalisation of fishery rights; it is more so 
when the nationalisation of royalties from the lease-holders 
of mines has been recommended by them. 

In assigning reasons for acquiring mineral rights, the 
Report states: "If Government decides to acquire all the 
superior interests in land down to the actual cultivators, the 
obvious policy is to acquire the whole property of the zamindars 
and middlemen and not a part" (Paragraph 119). They could 
have carried the logic further and included all urban lands, 
owned by private landlords, within their scheme of 
nationalisation. But they have excluded tea garden lands 
(although 60 per cent, of income from the tea industry are 
considered agricultural) and urban lands on the ground that 
they are outside their scope of enquiry but the fishery and 
mining rights (the incomes wherefrom are wholly non- 
agricultural) have been singled out for nationalisation, 
because "the advantages of acquiring minerals are more 
certain than the advantages of acquiring the right to collect 
rent" (Paragraph 119). But the announced purposes of the 
Commission were otherwise. 

(a) The Coal Mining Committee's Recommendation. The 
Report makes reference to the Report of the Coal Mining 



241 

Committee, 1937. The Coal Mining Committee observed: 
"The fact that except in Bengal and Bihar, the State already 
owns the royalty rights over coal deposits has not so far made 
much difference to wasteful dangerous methods of working." 
Accordingly, they recommended nationalisation of the industry. 
The majority members of the Land Revenue Commission were 
not evidently impressed with the above recommendation: they 
endorsed in part the suggestion of nationalisation of mines 
and minerals contained in the supplementary Note, signed 
by Messrs. H. K. Nag and M. S. Krishnan. Messrs. Nag 
and Krishnan suggested: "This (that is, State acquisition) 
should comprise, if not all the Bengal and Bihar fields, at 
least the Jharia and Raniganj fields in the first instance. The 
above two are the most important fields and contain the best 
coals in India. The major portion of the other important 
fields in the abovementioned provinces, viz., Giridih and 
Barakar, is already under State and Railway control." 

The majority members of the Land Revenue Commission 
who relied on the Note of Messrs. Nag and Krishnan in the 
matter of nationalisation of royalty rights fought shy of the 
State acquisition of mines and remarked: "There is no 
proposal to acquire their rights" (Paragraph 119). They 
believed: "The position of the companies working the mines 
is parallel to that of the actual cultivators working the land" 
(Paragraph 119). With the implications of this observation 
very few people can agree and in fact, none of the members of 
the Coal Mining Committee, 1937, agreed. 

(b) Difficulties of the scheme. The best of the coalfields 
are in Bihar; the nationalisation of mines is distinct from the 
nationalisation of royalty rights. It is well-known that 
"most of the earlier leases have been given by the zamindars 
on receipt of a lump sum payment (premium or salami) for 
periods up to 99 years (long lease) or up to 999 years (perpetual 
lease) . At the present day they receive only a comparatively 
small sum as rent or royalty. Probably 60 per cent, of the 
coal areas are on leases of this description". The more recent 
leases are for shorter periods with option of renewal and at 
higher rates of royalty. Between the zamindars and the 
actual operators there are intermediate lessees, each taking a 
share of the royalty. The nationalisation of royalty rights is 
advocated in the Minority Report of the Coal Mining 
Committee primarily on the ground that "the royalties can 
then be made uniform for each class of coal". But in view 
of the perpetual or long leases granted by zamindars at a 
nominal rent or royalty, the nationalisation of royalty rights 

17 



242 

cannot yield the desired result unless and until the lease is 
disturbed and the rate modified. This will involve further 
compensation for the extinguishment of the rights granted in 
perpetual leases. All this has not been considered in 
the Land Revenue Commission's Report; in fact, no case has 
been made by them for purchase of royalty rights which should 
be considered when the bigger question of nationalisation of 
mines is taken up. 

(c) Analogy of England not suitable. The analogy of 
England is not suitable in view of peculiar conditions obtaining 
in Bengal; moreover, the Bengal Land Revenue Commission 
had no jurisdiction to consider the purchase of royalty rights 
from mines, especially from the mines situated in Bihar. The 
analogy of Great Britain in the matter of oil, if and when 
discovered, belonging to Government cannot be applicable to 
the permanently settled estates of Bengal and Bihar without 
stultifying the despatch of the Secretary of State for India, 
No. 35 Revenue (Mineral) of the 25th March, 1880. Even 
the Report admits: "The position, therefore, is that mineral 
rights in Bengal are held as an integral part of the estates'" 
(Paragraph 118). Therefore, any legislation extinguishing 
the right of zamindars to minerals including oil cannot be 
passed without compensation so long as private rights in land 
are safeguarded by section 299 of the Government of India 
Act. We strongly disapprove of an expropriatory 
recommendation, as made in the Report, in the matter of State 
acquisition of right to minerals including oil, without any 
compensation. 

49. Conclusion. The majority of members have agreed 
that the decline of agriculture has been due to factors which 
have little relation to the land system. They also doubt if 
within the scheme of State-purchase there will be financial 
gain which might be pooled towards agricultural 
improvements; they frankly suggest that there could be no 
reduction of rent after the nationalisation of lands; they admit 
that social upheaval will ensue if many of the middle class 
lose their vested interests in land. After all these admissions 
it is extremely difficult to understand the reasoning that led 
the majority of members to conclude that there is no other 
way but to nationalise the agricultural land. Their findings 
do not support their recommendation of State-purchase, and 
their recommendations as to removal of defects in the tenancy 
law and agricultural economy of the Province do not justify 
the extinction of private landlord-tenant system. 



CHAPTER IV. 

Taxation of Agricultural Income. 

50. Implications of income-tax on agriculture. The 

Report admits that the Land Revenue Commission is "not 
primarily concerned with the financial arrangements which it 
might be necessary to adopt in order to carry out the measures 
which we may recommend for the improvement of economic 
conditions'" (Pamgrnph 134). In fact, the question of 
taxation which has no direct relation to the improvement of 
the land system was outside the terms of reference of 
the Commission. But- still they favoured income-tax on 
agricultural incomes, the implications whereof were not 
examined by them. Agricultural income-tax raises many 
important financial and constitutional questions, some of which 
are given below: 

(1) "Agriculture" not defined. Under the Government of 
India Act, 1935, " Agricultural income-tax", if any, falls 
within provincial source of revenue and ''agricultural income" 
means agricultural income as defined for the purposes of the 
enactment relating to Indian income-tax. Agriculture has not 
been defined in the Indian Income-tax Act and it should be 
interpreted in the light of what has been stated in the 
judgments of Courts. 

(2) Certain industries affected. In the case of income 
derived in part from agriculture and in part from business, 
there is a taxable and^non-taxable percentage, e.g., 40 per cent, 
of the income from tea industry is taxed under the Indian 
Income-tax Act. 

(3) Discriminating taxation. Agricultural income-tax 
imposed will be in addition to the revenue or rent and cesses 
payable by landlords; that will discriminate against landlords 
and give a definite set back to the expected development of new 
igriciilMirnl enterprises by private persons. 

(4) Constitutional questions involved. Basing on the 
interpretation of accrual, as held in the Port Said Salt 
Association and Mohanpur Tea Company's case (1937) by the 
Calcutta High Court, tea being grown in Assam and sold in 
Calcutta, the income therefrom may be assessable in Calcutta. 



244 

This may also arise with regard to other incomes derived in 
part from agriculture and in part from business. This will 
be a matter of constitutional right of the respective provinces. 

The Report has not considered the implications recited 
above. The scheme put forward seeks to tax agricultural 
incomes above Rs. 1,000 but it has not considered that the 
income-tax should be imposed on actual receipts, not on 
paper-profits. 

51. Paying capacity of landlords. The paying capacity 
of the zamindars has not been considered at all. In assessing 
the paying capacity of the landlords of agricultural lands, the 
following should be considered: 

Landlords' Receipts. Landlords' Expenses. 

(a) Raiyati Rental . . (a) Land Revenue or rent as the case 

may be. 

(6) Income from Kbas Lands . . (6) Public works and Road Cess (in- 

cluding the landlords and raiyats' 
share). 

(c) The quota of cesses payable by raiyats . . (c) Primary Education Cess, if any 

(including the landlords and raiyats' 
share). 

(d) Cost of collection of rents and 
cesses. 

(e) Union rate to every Union Board 
where zamindary is situated (irres- 
pective of the residence of land- 
lords). 

(/) Municipal rate (where agricultural 
lands are situated in any Municipal 
area). 

(g) Irrigation rate (if any) for the 
landlords' khas lands. 

(h) Any especial assessment (such as 
Punitive Tax) which zamindary 
property is made to bear without 
reference to the residence of land- 
lords). 

52. Dispersion of incomes. In the matter of income-tax 
on agricultural incomes, it is not the total net profit that is 
valuable; it is the dispersion of income which is to be taken into 
account. It is well known that landlords having large incomes 
are extremely limited in number and this can be had by 
reference to the electoral roll of the Landholders' Constituen- 
cies for the Bengal Legislative Assembly. The franchise 
qualifications in the said constituency are: payment of not less 
than Es. 3,000 by way of land revenue or rent or Us. 700 by 
way of public works and road cesses in the Burdwan and 
Presidency Divisions; payment of not less than Rs. 2,000 by 
way of public works and road cesses in the Dacca, Eajshahi 



245 

and Chittagong Divisions. The number of voters in the whole 
Province is roughly one thousand. In Bengal there are 27 
lakh tenures and 1 lakh revenue-paying estates. If the wide 
dispersion of incomes are taken into account, it will be clear 
that 

(a) the amount of money to be realised under the proposed 

tax will be inconsiderable; 

(b) the greater number of landlords assessable under the 

said tax enjoy a low percentage of income. 

53. Principles of taxation of agricultural income. It is 

true that taxation may be governed by different principles. 
The principle of ability should be followed by the State but 
equal sacrifice by similar and similarly situated persons should 
be desired in the interest of the community, although individual 
tax-payers would look at it from the principle of benefit. If 
the principle of taxation is followed, it should be agreed that 
landlords in common with other property owners should be left 
with a definite portion of their income. Accordingly, the 
Taxation Enquiry Committee proposed that 

(a) with regard to land revenue, the standard rate of not 
more than 25 per cent, is desirable; 

(6) the maximum for the ordinary local rates should be 
somewhere about 25 per cent, of the sum taken as 
land revenue. 

54. Difficulties of Bengal Landlords. The following 
difficulties of the landlords of Bengal have not been taken into 
consideration : 

(a) they pay revenue or rent irrespective of their realisa- 

tions and the methods of realisation are ineffective 
and dilatory; 

(b) they are to pay the cesses including the quota payable 

by raiyats irrespective of realisations and the agency 
of collection is the landlords who have not been 
given effective methods of realisation. 

55. Grounds of opposition. In the circumstances, we 
oppose the imposition of income-tax on agricultural income 
because 

(a) that will worsen the economic position of landlords 
who are functioning under the greatest of handicaps 
and in an adverse political .atmosphere; 



246 

(&) that will burden landlords with discriminatory 
taxation impairing the principle of equal sacrifice 
by similar and similarly situated persons; 

(c) that will give a definite set back to agricultural 

improvements by private persons and to industries 
which are partly agricultural; 

(d) that will not yield a good amount of money which will 

answer to agricultural needs of the province. 

56. Lines of taxation indicated. Should, however, 
income-tax on agricultural income be imposed at all in 
disregard of all that has been stated above, a proposition with 
which we are not in agreement, the following principles should 
not on any account be departed from 

(a) Landlords or raiyats having incomes below two 
thousand should not be taxed. 

(&) Every tauzi which is not left with 25 per cent, or any 
reasonable margin of income after payment of 
revenue or rent, existing cesses and other rates 
should be exempted from the scope of agricultural 
income-tax. 

(c) Income-tax should accrue only to the actually realised 

net incomes. (In calculating net income, recurring 
grants by landlords under legal obligations should 
be taken into account, e.g., endowments.) 

(d) Agricultural income should be earmarked as provincial 

revenue to be distributed in proportion to the 
agricultural needs of the different districts. 

(e) The tax should be taken as a temporary measure and 

the limit of agricultural improvement being reached 
in particular areas, it should be discontinued. 

57. Agricultural cess. With regard to agricultural cess 
we are in, entire accord with the observation of the Report that 
"we feel that under present conditions it should be useless to 
recommend the addition of a further cess" (Paragraph 136). 
We oppose the imposition of the agricultural cess on the 
following grounds: 

(a) It will affect the purchasing powers of both landlords 
and raiyats and thereby worsen the possibilities of 
realisation of rent from raiyats and payment of rent 
and revenue by landlords or zamindars. 



247 

(6) The agency of collection being the landlords, as in the 
case of other cesses, the imposition of a fresh cess 
will directly affect the landlords who have to make 
payments irrespective of realisations. 

(c) It excludes other parties in the countryside who are 
neither landlords nor tenants. 

(1) Objections (njain$t aurirultural cess. When we talk of 
agricultural cess, earmarked for definite agricultural 
improvements, it is to be treated as a betterment charge 
or assessment, and it is to be levied according to the principle 
of benefit. The principle of ability can be applied to a general 
tax. The agricultural cess being a special tax as opposed to 
general tax and the benefits therefrom being accrued to the 
raiyats wholly, as there could be no enhancement of rent on 
the ground of improvement made out of proceeds from the 
special assessment, there is hardly any principle of taxation 
followed if the landlords who are scrupulously shut out from 
enjoying directly any increments, arising from the outlay of 
expenses out of the proceeds of the said tax, are made liable 
to pay "agricultural cesses". The proposal that agricultural 
cesses may also be confined to the landlords only has no sanction 
in any principle of taxation. Thus the agricultural cess or the 
"tax" on agricultural income earmarked for agricultural 
improvements, which partakes definitely the nature of a special 
betterment assessment, should be governed according to the 
principle of benefit and not to the principle of ability. The 
canal rate in Bengal is an instance to the point as it embodies 
the principle of benefit. But the Public Works and Road 
Cesses and the Rural Primary Education Cess have made 
departures from the principles of local taxation. 

(2) Principles of local taxation. The following principle 
of local taxation is enunciated by Professor Seligman 1 . "If 
the Government performs some special service for u there is 
no reason why the public at large should pay for it. If it is 
wholly a matter of common interest, the community should pay 
all; if it is wholly a matter of individual benefit, the individual 
should pay all; if it is partly common and partly individual, 
the cost should be divided and the individual should pay up 
to the amount of his measurable special benefit." If this 
principle is followed, there is hardly any case to burden 
landlords with cesses or rates earmarked for agricultural 
improvements, unless they are assured of increments in the 
rate of rent. 

l "Essays in Taxation," page 445. 



CHAPTER V. 
Tenancy Legislation. 

58. Rent Act of 1859. It is surprising to learn from the 
Report that finding the raiyats rack-rented, impoverished and 
oppressed, the Government of India intervened .on their behalf 
in 1859 (Paragraph 58). The contention is puerile. The 
Eent Act of 1859 was originally a Bill "designed only to amend 
the law for the recovery of rent in the Bengal Presidency, or, 
as it was put at the time to provide for the revision and 
consolidation of the distraints and summary suit law which 
then comprised the law for the recovery of rents. It was 
not intended to be, in any complete sense, a codification of the 
law of landlord and tenant. The substantive portions of the 
Act were not designed to create or limit rights. They were 
meant to be merely declaratory of the law as it stood 1 /' It 
was the Select Committee who made radical changes, especially 
the change that the holding of land for 12 years should be 
considered to give a right of occupancy. In the original Bill, 
the word "resident" was used. But "residence" being a 
condition of "occupancy right" was abandoned, and Act X of 
1859 gave rise to the conception of occupancy raiyats, a 
conception alien to the Permanent Settlement Regulations. 

The Report contains contradictory remarks with regard 
to the subject if the occupancy right created in 1859 is 
synonymous with the khudkasht right in 1793. At one place, 
the Report says that "in effect they (khudkasht raiyats) had 
the right which the subsequent tenancy legislation has called 
a right of occupancy" (Paragraph 27). At another place, the 
Report states: "It (Rent Act of 1859) thereby obliterated the 
older distinction between the khudkasht and paikast raiyats, 
and made length of possession the criterion of occupancy 
rights" (Paragraph 59). That the khudkasht right 
originated in the act of settlement and tillage is accepted by 
all important authorities. But by Act X of 1859, this concept 
of "residence and cultivation" on the part of occupancy raiyats 
was negatived; this led to a new state of things. 

Wide Appendix I of the Report of the Government of Bengal on the proposed amend- 
ment of the law of landlords and tenant, Volume I, published in 1883. Appendix I 
dealt with the history of Rent Question in Bengal since the passing of Act X of 1859. The 
true object of the Bill, said the Mover (Mr. Currie) in Council on the 10th October in 1857, 
was to improve procedure, not to alter rights. In fact, there was no case for alteration of 
rights. 



249 

The position was this: the original Bill wanted to codify 
the then existing law of landlord and tenant for the sake of 
administrative convenience but not for limiting the rights of 
landlords or correcting abuses, and that the Bill became an 
Act with many new changes in the substantive law. This 
point of view and consequential deductions therefrom have 
been completely ignored in the Report. In the circumstances, 
it is an extremely hasty statement, unsupported by historical 
facts, that ' 'agrarian disorders forced the situation on 
Government's attention and led to the passing of Act X of 
1859". (Paragraph 76.) 

59. Transferability. The Eeport states that "the 
authorities are far from unanimous whether before and after 
the Permanent Settlement raiyati holdings were transferable" 
(Paragraph 150). It has, however, taken care not to refer 
to any authorities. The decision of the Full Bench in the 
Great Rent Case of 1865 to the effect that occupancy raiyats 
could not legally sell or mortgage any of their lands is doubted 
without any proof to the contrary. There are other legal 
decisions to establish that the raiyati holdings were not 
transferable. All contemporary authorities such as Shore, 
Harrington and others clearly declared that the holdings of 
khudkasht raiyats at the time of the Settlement of 1793 were 
non-transferable. All this is ignored. 

In the latter part of the nineteenth century, transfer ability 
grew up by custom. In 1885, transferability was sought to 
be recognised in law subject to the conditions that transfer 
should be restricted to agriculturists and that landlords should 
have the right of pre-emption. But it was not done. In 
1928 the landlords' transfer fee, which was customary, was 
recognised in law, and the proposal of pre-emption also 
received statutory recognition. In 1938 both the fee and the 
pre-emptive right of landlords were taken away. The Report 
has laid stress on the central point that the customs and usages 
which are effective should be respected. But they are 
indifferent to, and suspicious of, the customary, and even 
statutory rights of landlords, even when those rights derive 
justification from the principles of a scientific land system. 

60. Subinfeudation recognised. The Report states 

"Subinfeudation below the raiyat was not created by 
tenancy legislation; legislation has merely recognised 
existing facts, belatedly and reluctantly" 
(Paragraph 140.) 



250 

Act X of 1859 provided that the holding of the same land 
for twelve years should be considered to give a right of 
occupancy 1 without any reference to ' 'residence and 
''cultivation". Since then, subletting which did not involve 
forfeiture of occupancy rights became common and non- 
cultivating raiyats grew up in course of time. Thus 
subinfeudation below the raiyat which was not provided for in 
the Regulations of 1793 was definitely encouraged by the 
tenancy legislation. It was not a case of c 'belated and 
reluctant recognition" by the tenancy legislation. 

61. Evils of subletting. It is interesting to find that on 
the plea of ' 'elasticity in the land system," they have supported 
subletting and advocated that there should be "future 
admissions" in the task of cultivation (Paragraph 140). 
They did not consider that the "elasticity" may be obtained 
by providing for "surrender", and that the creation of series 
of under-raiyats involves a strain on actual cultivators which 
is not healthy for efficient cultivation. If bargadars and under- 
raiyats are brought within "protected interests", there is no 
knowing when the chain of subinfeudation below the legal 
raiyat will stop, and it is clearly a case of letting things to 
"drift towards proletarianisation". 

62. Criticisms of Tenancy Acts. The Report has arrived 
at certain conclusions without accepting the logical implications 
thereof. It has been claimed that tenancy legislations have 
been enacted for the welfare of raiyats. But the following 
criticisms were made in the Report itself: 

(1) The Tenancy Act of 1885 did not protect the actual 

tillers of the soil. (Paragraph 141.) 

(2) The vital blunder was to attach occupancy rights not 

to the land, but to a particular class of tenants who 
might be non-agriculturists or might cease to 
cultivate. 

(3) Free transferability of the occupancy right has tended 

and must tend to facilitate the transfer of raiyati 
lands into the hands of mahajans and non- 
agriculturists. It is as great a danger to the 
stability of the existing raiyats as their 
opportunities for subletting (Paragraph 150.) 

(4) The tenancy legislation recognised subinfeudation 

below the raiyat without attempting to forbid it. 
(Paragraph 140.) 

x The decision of the Great Rent Case (1865) was to following effect: "A holding for twelve 
years, whether wholly before or wholly after, or partly before and partly after, the passing 
of the Act, entitles a raiyat to a right of occupancy under Act X of 1859, Section 6.'* 



251 

The admissions, made in the above criticisms, are sufficient 
to condemn the policy embodied in the different Tenancy Acts. 
They have altered the incidents of raiyati rights, contemplated 
by the Permanent Settlement, and invited complications in 
the land system without any regard for the interests of 
agriculture. 

To the above criticisms, the following defects, inherent in 
the tenancy legislation, may be added: 

(1) The Tenancy Act has not sought to maintain an 

economic unit of holding 1 . 

(2) It has encouraged defaulting regular payment of rent 

by raiyats, the period of limitation being three 
years. A raiyat holding at fixed rates or an 
occupancy raiyat shall not be liable to ejectment 
for arrears of rent but his holding is liable to sale 
in execution of a decree for the rent thereof 2 . The 
method of realisation of rent is neither speedy nor 
effective. 

(3) The Bengal Tenancy Act intensifies the shortage of 

capital in agriculture. The Act stops landlords 
from obtaining unrestricted possession of a compact 
area from their own raiyats even for the purpose 
of development and also from securing any return 
from the proceeds of their outlay in their own 
zainindaries 3 . 

63. Responsibilities of Tenancy Legislation. The Report 
admits that the worsening of the agricultural situation 
in Bengal is brought about by unscientific provisions in the 
Bengal Tenancy Act and that the growth of "a no-rent 
mentality among many of the cultivators which threatens the 
stability and security of the land system as a whole" 

1 Section 88 of the Bengal Tenancy (Amendment) Act, 1928, provided that in the matter 
of subdivision of tenancy, the distribution of rent should not result in bringing the rent for 
any portion below Rs. 2-8 in the case of holdings. This may roundly mean that the holdings 
may not be reduced beyond 2 or 2J bighas. The Amending Act of 1938 provided 
that no order for the distribution of rent might be made which would result in bringing 
the rent below one rupee in the case of holdings. This roughly makes for one-bigha hold- 
ing. Thus the economic nature of the holding is impaired by the imperfect policy pursued 
in the different tenancy legislations. 

"The sale of a holding in execution of the decree and the confirmation thereof take a lot 
of time. The defaulting raiyats continue enjoying all the privileges. In Madras, a land- 
holder is entitled to recover any arrear of rent by a suit before the Collector, by distraint 
and sale of movable property or by sale of a raiyat's holding (section 77 of the Madras 
Estates Land Act of 1908, as amended by Act VI of 1909, VIII of 1934 and IV of 1936). 
Section 34 of the Agricultural Holding Act, 1923, applicable to agricultural holdings in 
England and Wales, shortens the period for making a distress for rent to one year. 

8 The Royal Commission of Agriculture in India criticised similar restrictions 
(paragraph 358). 



252 

(Paragraph 88) is facilitated by conditions brought about by 
tenancy legislations whereunder "a large and increasing 
proportion of the actual cultivators have no part of the elements 
of ownership, no protection against excessive rents and no 
security of tenure" (Paragraph 87). This was a state of 
things which was not inherited from the Permanent Settlement 
Regulations, nor created by the landowning class; it was 
the direct result of the creation of the rent-receiving raiyats 
whose opportunities for rack-renting under-raiyats and actual 
cultivators have been widened by the different tenancy 
legislations. 

If this view of the case is accepted, as has been done in the 
Majority Report, a view with which the present signatories 
are in agreement, the case for condemnation of the Permanent 
Settlement and the landowning class becomes weak. But the 
Report has been impervious to the logic of their own 
conclusion and has, without good grounds, condemned the 
Permanent Settlement, and the zamindars with whom the 
Settlement was made and the state of things following 
therefrom. 

64. Interest of agriculture neglected. The Report 
breathes a keen desire to clothe raiyats with rights without any 
regard for the interests of agriculture. They have ignored 
the fundamental principle of land tenure that if the interests 
of farms conflict with those of farmers, the interests of the 
latter shall have to be subordinated a principle scrupulously 
followed in all the progressive tenancy legislations of the 
western countries. 

65. The Barga System. As an evidence of concern for, 
bargadars, the Report states: "The balance of opinion in all 
countries is that this (barga) system of cultivation is neither 
economic, nor in the interest of the community as a whole". 
(Paragraph 144.) 

It is, indeed, surprising. The Report instituted by the 
French Farmers' Society in 1912 and published in 1913 states 
that "Metayage" (the system of sharing in between landlord 
and cultivator) possessed undoubted advantages and assured 
the best revenue from land. In Modern Italy Mezzadria or 
Terzieria (when the landlord takes two-thirds of the crops) 
covered more than one- third of all agricultural land. It is 
popular in America, Australia and other places 1 . Share- 
tenancy is suitable for tenants who have less capital and less 

l Vide Dr. J. A. Venn's ''The Foundations of Agricultural Economics" and E. G. Nourso's 
"Agricultural Economics." 



253 

skill and particularly fitted for the places where the system 
exists. Landlords and raiyats are joint partners in the 
business of agriculture and this is best assured in a barga 
system which has never failed to receive a good share of praise 
from agronomists. This is a very ideal system so far as our 
country is concerned. In a country of small holdings, 
cultivated by an army of indigent raiyats depending on private 
money-lenders and rainfall, the barga system is not only 
inevitable but also wholesome. Moreover, the barga system 
is "as old as the country itself " and should not be abolished. 

66. Recommendations regarding bargadars. The Report 
makes two recommendations in the case of bargadars: 

(1) bargadars may be declared as tenants; they need not 

have all the rights of occupancy. (Paragraphs 145 
and 146.) 

(2) The share of the crop legally recoverable from 

bargadars should be one-third, instead of half. 
(Paragraph 146.) 

(a) Bargadars need not be tenants. With regard to the 
first recommendation, there is an indirect admission that the 
incidents of occupancy right as recognised in the Bengal 
Tenancy Act do not make for efficient cultivator, but they do 
not provide that efficient cultivation on the part of bargadars 
is also necessary. They are eager to give rights but not to 
ensure performance of obligation. In a share-tenancy, mutual 
trust is the core of the system, and although bargadars have 
no written lease, they are little disturbed. A written lease 
which will be "the material for lawyers" tends to impair the 
trust on which the system is based. 

In fact, the majority of opinions received by the Land 
Revenue Commission were against the proposal. The 
Landlords' Associations, the Bar Associations and almost all 
the individuals who submitted memoranda were unanimous in 
their opinion that the right of occupancy and other rights 
should not be extended to bargadars and that no protection 
was necessary for them. The purpose of the barga system 
may be defeated if bargadars are declared as tenants and 
allowed to sublet under any plea. The Report in paragraph 
147 proposes to forbid ' 'subletting in any form 15 , but in 
paragraph 140 states that "we cannot entirely prevent 
subletting." The dangers of subletting in a share-tenancy 
should not be ignored. There is thus no case for declaring 
them as tenants, and such a declaration will prove prejudicial 
to agriculture. 



254 

(b) The half-and-half system popular. With regard to 
the second recommendation, it may be noted that the Report 
has all along urged on a policy of non-interference with the 
customary rights in the matter of land tenures. The half-and- 
half system is popular not only in Bengal but also in other 
countries of the West where share- tenancy prevails. Under 
Section 48D of the Bengal Tenancy Act, the rate of rent of an 
under-raiyat is limited to one-third of the value of the average 
estimated produce of the land. This is in the case of an under- 
raiyat with whom the higher grade raiyat has little connection 
except the receipt of rent. In a share- tenancy, the supervision 
and constant vigilance from the landlords of the bargadars are 
essential, but under the recommendation they will be entitled 
to no better remuneration for the services rendered and the 
uncertainties and risks, inherent in share-produce, faced. 
Accordingly, we are not in favour of disturbing the customary 
arrangements with regard to bhagchasis. 

67. Objects of Tenancy Reform. Land is the basic 
element of production in Bengal, and agriculture is her 
national industry. The whole community is so harnessed to 
agriculture that its slightest decline induces stresses and con- 
tractions throughout every layer of society. The successive 
tenancy legislations from 1859 onward did not take int.o 
account the importance of agriculture in the national life of 
Bengal; they sought to invest raiyats with rights. The 
Tenancy Act should be framed in a way which will 

(a) create conditions of cultivating tenure corresponding 
to the old khudkasht tenure so as to give the 
cultivators of the soil the utmost freedom, 
encouragement and security for helping efficient 
production; 

(I) preserve full opportunities of access to land for those 
who are best qualified to use it; 

(c) protect agricultural land from misuse and exhaus- 

tion, either due to bad farming and fragmentation 
of holdings or to other factors; 

(d) facilitate bringing into agricultural use any land 

capable of cultivation, and not at present 
cultivated ; 

(e) give agriculturists the full benefit of its national 

credit sources and rescue land from the plight of 
under-capitalisation ; 



255 

(/) and root out the impediments to the performance of 
the functions of landlords and raiyats 1 . 

Tenancy laws are necessary to govern the conditions of 
tenure with an eye to the interest of agriculture. To put the 
matter more clearly, tenancy laws should aim at making 
provisions, (1) for better performance of the functions of 
landlords, (2) for faithful performance of the functions of 
raiyats, and (3) for safeguarding the interests of agriculture. 

68. Suggested lines of reform. Tenancy reforms within 
the given framework of the zamindari system should proceed 
on the following lines: 

(1) "Landlord" and "tenant''. In any tenancy the 
concept of landlord and tenant (or raiyat) should be made 
clear. In the Bengal Tenancy Act, the definitions of "land- 
lord" and "tenant" are arbitrary. All rent-receivers are not 
included within one category. The expressions, "landlord" 7 
and "raiyat", should be defined in the following way: 

"Landlord" should mean any person for the time being- 
entitled to receive the rents and profits of any land. 
(Vide Section 57 of the Agricultural Holdings Act, 
1923, applicable to agricultural holdings in England 
and Wales.) 

"Raiyat" should mean the holder of land under a contract 
of tenancy, express or implied, for the purpose of 
cultivation by his own family or hired labour. Under 
the Punjab Tenancy Act, a raiyat who collects rent 
from an under-raiyat is a landlord. 

The above definition will put all rent-receivers on the grade- 
of landlords and all cultivators on the grade of raiyats. It will 
simplify the land system by doing away with many artificial 
and arbitrary distinctions. 

(2) Rents in Bengal. Rents in Bengal were customary. 
At the time of the Permanent Settlement, the position was 
that the rents of village raiyats were not to exceed the Pargana 
rates. The ratio of rent to produce was recognised in the 
principle of the Pargana rate. Act X of 1859 introduced the 
provision that raiyats were to receive pattahs at "fair and 
equitable rates". The Act did not define "fair and equitable 
rates". The expression "prevailing rate" was also used by 
Act X of 1859 but not defined. The statutory definition of 

l The above principles were approved by the Liberal Land Committee, England (pages* 
23-25) in their Report. 



256 

the prevailing rate was given in section 31A, inserted by the 
Bengal Tenancy Amendment Act of 1898. The "prevailing 
rate" was defined as the highest of such rates at which and at 
rates higher than which the larger portion of land of a similar 
description and with similar advantages are held within any 
village or villages. The "prevailing rate" introduced a novel 
principle. But whatever might be the principles guiding 
rent-rates in Bengal, the present position is this: the average 
raiyati rent in Bengal is low (Rs. 3-5 per acre) ; the average 
under-raiyati rent is high (Rs. 6-3 per acre). In a country 
where the under-raiyati rent can be made to go as high as 
Rs. 6-3 per acre, the maintenance of the raiyati rental at 
Rs. 3-5 per acre speaks of the liberality of landlords. That the 
under-raiyati rent has been as high as Rs. 6-3 per acre is due 
to defective provisions of the Tenancy Act. That is not the 
blame of the zamindari system. The concept of the 
"prevailing rate" should, accordingly, be reformed. 

Economists hold that low rent results in low-farming and 
subletting on a vast scale. Accordingly, rents should be kept 
at a level which ensures efficiency and prevents subletting. 
That principle was not set in play in Bengal, nor did the 
Tenancy Act try to stop subletting at a rack-renting rate. The 
rack-renting nature of occupancy-raiyats has spread discontent 
which has been exploited under cover of the tenancy legislation 
to transfer the rights and privileges of landlords to occupancy 
raiyats. The Bengal landlords have been curbed but the cause 
of discontent has remained all the same unattacked. The 
grievances have thus multiplied and have been as ever 
attributed to the zamindari system. This point of view has 
not been appreciated in the Report, and the fact that the under- 
raiyati rent which is intercepted by rent-receiving occupancy 
raiyats is high has not received any recognition therein. 

The Report admits that the present raiyati rent in Bengal is 
low and forms only one-fifteenth of the value of produce. Thus 
there is no case for general reduction of raiyati rent, as has 
been pointed out in the Report, but with regard to under- 
raiyati rent the same point of view is not applicable. 

(3) Fixity of rent. Landlords have no mind to rack- 
rent or plunder raiyats. We do not seek to enhance rents 
oi'dinarily and stand for fixity of rent in normal circumstances. 
It is only in the case of improvements effected by landlords that 
a legitimate return of their investments should be assured. 
That will not disturb the principle of fixity of rent, but if this 
is not done, the landlords' incentive to making improvements 
naturally go. This was strongly urged by the Royal 



257 

Commission of Agriculture in India (1928): "We would 
suggest that, where existing systems of tenure or tenancy laws 
operate in such a way as to deter landlords who are willing to 
do so from investing capital in the improvement of their land, 
the subject should receive careful consideration with a view to 
the enactment of such amendments as may be calculated to 
remove the difficulties." The proposal to restrict the landlord's 
right to raise rent in event of improvements effected by land- 
lords at their expenses would lead to the shortage of capital in 
the improvement of agriculture. The Rural Report of the 
Liberal Land Committee, England, 1923-25, unhesitatingly 
recommended: 'To the free working of the landlord-tenant 
system the landlord's right to raise the rent is essential. 
Refusal of that right removes his one economic incentive to 
improve his land." The United Provinces Tenancy Act of 
1939 follows the Oudh Rent Act, 1886, as regards the right of a 
landholder to claim enhancement on account of an improvement 
effected by or at the expense of landlords. 

(4) Acquisition of lands for improvements. To make 
above recommendation more effective and productive there 
should be a provision in the Tenancy Act that landlords would 
be competent to acquire lands from their occupancy raiyats on 
payment of compensation for various purposes such as improved 
farming, for making roads, water-courses, for constructing 
hamlets or markets, for mills or factories, etc. (vide Agra 
Tenancy Act, 1926). Such a provision is helpful for rural 
improvement and would meet the fatal objection that landlords 
are restricted to make improvement, even when they like to. 

There should be an ancillary and complimentary provision 
that raiyats, when asked to surrender or sell, would be duly 
compensated for all the improvements made by them at their 
own expenses which have added to the productive value of land. 
The procedure for determining compensation for improvements 
may be profitably taken from the English Agricultural Hold- 
ings Act, 1923, whereunder such compensation is measured 
by the value of the improvement to an incoming tenant, not 
by its cost to the outgoing tenant. 

(5) "Raiyati land" . The absence of discouragement of 
subinfeudation among raiyats is the most lamentable feature 
of our tenancy legislation. It leads to rack-renting of under- 
raiyats and growth of a rent-receiving class of raiyats who 
enjoy all the privileges incidental to "a protected interest". 
The subinfeudation among raiyats can be definitely 
discouraged, if it is provided that ,the right of occupancy 

18 



258 

should be attached to land. There should, therefore, be 
raiyati land. This was recommended in 1883 by Miss Florence 
Nightingale, a great friend of Bengal peasants. 

(6) Economic holding. The unit of the economic holding 
should be maintained. The present position in law i that no 
order for division of holding shall be made which would result 
in bringing the rent below one rupee. This one-rupee holding 
will roughly amount to one-bigha holding. The present law 
should be amended so that no order for division shall be made 
which would result in bringing the rent below 8 or 9 rupees. 
That would make room for maintaining the holding at the 
unit of nearly 3 acres which may be taken as forming an 
economic unit for the purpose of cultivation. The impairing 
of the economic unit of the holding leads to inefficiency in 
agriculture and indebtedness among raiyats. This is essential 
in the interest of the peasantry of Bengal. A raiyat burdened 
with uneconomic holding is a powerful instrument for generat- 
ing social disequilibrium. 

.Restrictions on subletting are necessary in the interest of 
raiyats themselves. They are accepted in all progressive 
tenancy legislations. A true peasant is he who wants to 
remain a peasant. The tendency of helping rent-receiving 
raiyats or of helping raiyats to cease to be cultivators on the 
specious plea of the protection and welfare of raiyats, 
discernible in the tenancy legislations of Bengal, should be 
discouraged. 

(7) Realisation of rents. Tn any tenancy legislation, the 
most vital question is that raiyats can and should enjoy rights 
so long as they pay rents regularly. This was the sine qua non 
of the old khudkasht tenure. The present tenancy law in 
Bengal encouraged a raiyat to default in so far as he is not 
debarred from enjoying his rights in the event of allowing 
arrears to heap up. Tt is a common experience for landlords 
to find that raiyats go on enjoying their rights without making 
payment of rents for a good number of years through the 
dilatory methods of Civil Courts. Such an arrangement is 
evidently unscientific; it is more so, when it is remembered 
that arrears once allowed to accumulate depress the raiyat and 
can hardly be liquidated. Many of the recognised advocates 
of the cause of raiyats, such as Arthur Young, Miss Florence 
Nightingale, have impressed upon land reformers the necessity 
of securing a regular payment of rent. That is all to the good 
of the peasants themselves, and engenders forces for better 
functioning of the land t system. This aspect of the question 



259 

should be clearly borne in mind in the matter of devising 
speedy, inexpensive and effective methods for realisation of 
rents. In this matter, the tenancy law of Madras is of 
particular interest to us and can be profitably followed. 

We are glad to note that the Report has criticised the 
existing procedure for realisation of rents, and we are in 
general agreement with their criticisms. Accordingly, we 
endorse generally their recommendations in paragraphs 314, 
315, 316 and 319 of the Report. The realisation of the arrears 
of rents by the sale of movables, ejectment, or distraint in a 
limited way should be duly considered. Judgment-debtors 
remaining in adverse possession after being given a reasonable 
time to vacate should not be leniently dealt with. The central 
and governing fact must not be lost sight of that no landlord- 
tenant system can function efficiently under the handicap of a 
dilatory procedure in the matter of realisation of rents; the 
more so, when zamindars are asked to pay revenue punctually 
on pain of sale of the defaulter's estates without any com- 
miseration. But we strongly oppose the proposal that if 
landlords do not accept the money-orders (regarding payment 
of rent), they should forfeit the claim to the amount of the 
money tendered by money orders. This a flimsy proposal, 
especially when the refusal of the money orders can possibly 
be arranged by collusion between the remitter and the peon 
concerned. Accordingly, postal receipts for money orders 
should not be accepted as conclusive evidence by the Courts. 

(8) No-rent mentality to be guarded against. The United 
Provinces Tenancy Act, 1939, has retained the provision in 
the Agra Tenancy Amendment Act of 1931 that in case of 
any refusal on the part of tenants of any local area to pay 
arrears of rent due by them to their landlords, Government may 
declare that such arrears may be recovered as arrears of land 
revenue. Such a provision should be made in the Bengal 
Tenancy Act. 



CHAPTER VI. 

Economic Conditions in Bengal. 

69. Causes of agricultural decline. It is to be observed 
that the Report has condemned the Permanent Settlement for 
reasons which are attributable to other factors; it has criticised 
landlords for defects which have come from other directions. 
In fact, the Report has contradicted the criticisms made in its 
earlier part by the observations made in its later part. The 
Report admits without reservation that the economic position 
of agricultural Bengal has worsened for the following reasons: 

(a) ever-increasing pressure of population on land 
(paragraph 153); 

(&) the subdivision of holdings, accelerated by the laws of 
inheritance and the free right of transfer 
(paragraph 154); 

(c) the growth of uneconomic holdings (paragraph 156);, 

(d) fall in agricultural prices since 1929 (paragraph 158); 
(p) inadequate yield of rice in Bengal (paragraph 166); 

(/) the general absence of practice to grow a second crop 
(paragraph 213); 

(g) absence of improved methods of cultivation (paragraph 
214) ; 

(k) the deterioration of the rivers in Western and Central 
Bengal (paragraph 216); 

(i) unscientific embankments (paragraph 218); 

(j) absence of proper marketing organisation for agricul- 
tural and industrial products (paragraph 237); 

(k) the unimproved breed of cattle (paragraph 238); 

(Z) unsatisfactory credit facilities of agriculturists 
(paragraph 278); 

(m) the restriction of rural credit by the Bengal 
Agricultural Debtors Act, 1935 (paragraph 158). 

The recital of the causes of the economic deterioration of 
agricultural Bengal indicates that the chief potent factors are: 
(a) natural causes, (&) imperfect legislations, (c) Governmental 
negligence. It has little to do with the Permanent Settlement, 
less with the landowning community. On the other hand, that 



261 

agricultural Bengal progressed economically in spite of the 
handicaps mentioned was a distinct tribute to the land system. 
At a time when there was no other agency for rural welfare, 
it was the landlords who functioned as suchi, and even now they 
play an important role in the economic regeneration of rural 
Bengal. This historical perspective and objective approach 
to the problems of agricultural Bengal, which have been absent 
in the Report, should not be lost signt of in evaluating the land 
system created by the Permanent Settlement of 1793. 

70. Condition of Bengal cultivators. With regard to the 
position of the Bengal cultivators, the Report makes the 
following admissions: 

(1) The incidence of rent has little effect on the general 

economic conditions. Rent is one of the least 
important items in the cultivator's budget. 
(Paragraph 174.) 

(2) Bengal has a more fertile soil and greater climatic 

advantages than the other Provinces. (Paragraph 
201.) 

(3) The cultivators of Bengal are, as a whole, better off 

than those in Madras and the United Provinces. 
(Paragraph 202.) 

(4) Both in Madras and the United Provinces the 
cultivators have to work harder for crops which are 
less valuable than those grown in Bengal 
(Paragraph 202). The value of the crops which 
the Punjab tenant grows is roughly half the average 
value of crops in Bengal (Paragraph 201). 

(5) Considering the level of rents obtaining in the 
provinces visited (that is, Madras, the United 
Provinces and the Punjab), the value of produce, 
and the prevailing economic conditions, there would 
be justification for enhancements, rather than 
reductions of rent in Bengal. (Paragraph 204.) 

These admissions, however, do not establish the case for a 
fundamental change in the land system of the Province; they 
emphasise the need for a planned agricultural policy by 
(Government within the given framework of the land system. 
The logic of their findings has been lost upon the majority of the 
members of the Commission. 

71. Impoverishment of Bengal. It is well known that the 
economic deterioration of Bengal resulted from other factors 
which have not been touched on in the Report, viz., decline of 



262 

her own industries, and the exploitation of Bengal's money 
for other provinces. When the Britishers came and assumed 
administration of Bengal, she had cotton, silk and salt 
industries on a large scale. The Company's trading policy 
depressed those industries. Since the Permanent Settlement, 
it was Bengal's surplus which met the expenses of wars for 
the consolidation of British rule in India. Even at a later 
period when the Central Administration was well established, 
Bengal's contributions to the Centre which were always higher 
could not be profitably used for Bengal's welfare. The result 
has been that the per capita expenditure in the nation-building 
activities of the Government of Bengal has been extremely low. 
This story of Bengal's ruin of industries and sacrifice for the 
other provinces and for the Centre explains, to a great extent, 
the handicaps experienced in the matter of economic 
reconstruction of Bengal and disapproves the contention that 
the Permanent Settlement could be linked up with the cause 
of the economic backwardness of the Province. 

72. No agricultural policy planned. The Report has 
discussed elaborately the economic handicaps facing the Bengal 
cultivators in the matter of production and distribution of their 
agricultural products. In this task, it has exceeded the 
bounds of the terms of reference and acted more as an 
Agricultural Commission. In fact, it has drawn largely on the 
recommendations of the Royal Commission of Agriculture in 
India (1928). We desist from discussing those recommenda- 
tions at length partly because we have not been asked to record 
specifically our opinions on agricultural improvements, and 
partly because they have been put in a very general way so as 
to disarm any criticism. No agricultural policy has been 
planned and recommended; merely some of the text-book 
maxims with regard to the methods of cultivation, marketing 
of produce, controlling of indebtedness and others of similar 
nature have been catalogued. The Report hardly makes any 
constructive suggestions which may be developed into an 
agricultural policy. The approach to the problem does not 
bear the impress of any scientific outlook. 

73. Criticisms. Let us illustrate our criticisms. 

(1) The Report finds that two-fifths of the agricultural 
families hold an area of 2 acres or less, which is insufficient for 
their maintenance (Paragraph 173). This is a very grave 
situation which needs immediate tackling, but no constructive 
remedies are put forward to remove the existing defects. The 
Report merely suggests that the subdivision of holdings cannot 
be effectively checked and that the fragmentation of holdings 



263 

where subinfeudation exists can hardly be improved by 
consolidation. 

(2) In paragraph 158, the Report says that the Bengal 
Agricultural Debtors Act, 1935, has resulted in restriction of 
credit and at present rural credit is almost non-existent. In 
paragraph 295, the Report states: "We are not prepared to 
say that the defects of the Act are such that it should be 
repealed." Thus the Report at one place admits that rural 
credit is almost non-existent principally through the operation 
of the Agricultural Debtors Act; it recommends in another 
place that the defects of the Act are not so vital as to justify 
its repeal. In paragraph 298 the Report says that the proposal 
to establish Government-controlled Agricultural Banks in every 
thana is not desirable or practicable. In paragraph 299, the 
Report recognises that the reorganisation of the Co-operative 
Department may take time. ^But there is no indication, far 
less any scheme, how the existing credit needs of agriculturists 
will be satisfied, especially in a country where the majority of 
credit-money flows from private money-lenders. 

(3) The Report notes that there has been a fall in the prices 
of agricultural products (Paragraph 158) since 1929, but there 
has been no discussion, far less any suggestion, as to how fair 
prices could be maintained. 

(4) The Report points out that the marketing organisation 
both for agricultural and industrial products is unsatisfactory 
but there is no plan envisaged on which marketing organisation 
should run. 

(5) The Report feels the need for improved yield, better 
manuring, better sires, better seeds, double cropping, etc., but 
there is no constructive scheme wherefrom raiyats will have the 
necessary money and requisites. The Report finds its task 
completed by emphasising the need for rural organisation 
(Paragraph* 209). 

We are sorry to find that the Report hardly makes any 
constructive suggestion to the solution of our grave economic 
problems. The remedies recommended are extremely in the 
nature of a patch-work; they do not answer to the needs of the 
situation. They have been ' "radical" in recommending a 
change in the land system but extremely "conservative" in 
devising measures of reform in the economic field. All this 
indicates that they do not propose to rescue agriculture out of 
its pit which is essential, but they merely want to strike 
landlords low for some "fancied" privileges to raiyats who form 
generally a "legal personality" in the task of cultivation 
without being cultivators themselves. 



264 

74. Constructive schemes suggested. Some of our 
constructive suggestions for the amelioration of the economic 
malaise of agricultural Bengal are very briefly given below and 
the details thereof are left out: 

(1) Central Development Board. There should be a 
Central Development Board constituted of landlords' 
representatives, tenants' representatives, and Government 
experts. This Board will co-ordinate the activities of the 
Agricultural and Industries Department, Irrigation 
Department and Co-operative Department. The functions of 
the Board may be as follows: (a) agricultural improvements 
by the introduction of improved seeds, good manure, new 
money-crops, rotation of crops, improved method of 
agriculture, etc., (b) irrigation and drainage improvements, 
(c) marketing schemes, (d) revival of cottage industries, 
(e) better credit arrangements. 

The proceeds from agricultural income-tax, if any, and 
other levies earmarked for agricultural improvements 
supplemented by grants from general revenues of the Provincial 
1 Government and other additional receipts in the shape of jute 
duty, might form the nucleus of the funds, as most of the work 
of the different nation-building departments will be performed 
and co-ordinated under the aegis of the Central Board. The 
allocation of the funds will be made by the Board. 

(2) Improvement of the human unit. In agricultural 
economy, tenure and credit are the two most important factors. 
In the matter of tenure, we have already put forth our 
recommendations (vide Chapter V). With regard to credit 
the most vital thing is to increase the "credit-worthiness" of 
agriculturists. The credit-worthiness of raiyats may be 
increased by (1) making them honest and efficient, (2) making 
agriculture a paying proposition, (3} pooling the products to 
serve as credit-fund for loans. Raiyats should <3ome under a 
regional organisation, started or subsidised by Government, 
for the purpose of improving their production and distribution. 
But in a country where the population is dense, and agricultural 
holdings numerous, the principles of co-operative or collective 

t farming are not suitable; individual farming on small holdings, 
as is being encouraged in England by the Small Holdings Act, 
is most suitable in Bengal. The main Report is silent on 
emphasising the need for improving the human unit, involved 
in the task of cultivation. 

A cultivator should have health and strength, skill in his 
task, industrious habit, clear vision, good judgment, knowledge 
of his crops and live-stock, ability to give and receive 



265 

instructions, self-control to keep his wasteful habits under 
control, ability to work with neighbours, faithfulness to the 
interests of farms, and habits of frugality. The agricultural 
policy should be so framed as to encourage the above virtues. 

The complaint of competent observers has been that 
agricultural prosperity has ' 'added little to the peasant's 
wealth but greatly to his debt and alarmingly to his numbers", 
and that "every economic advantage gained by raiyat has been 
the signal for relaxation of effort". The "unwholesome 
effects" of prosperity on raiyats, which are and can be found, 
should be guarded against to stabilise the good effects flowing 
from agricultural prosperity. 

(3) How to improve credit system. In Bengal the existing 
agencies except indigenous money-lenders are inadequate to 
serve the credit-need's of raiyats. The co-operative societies 
touch on only a fringe of the problem, and even if they are 
extended, they can hardly meet the growing needs. 
Accordingly, the agency of private money-lenders cannot be 
altogether ignored; their operations and rates of interest may 
be regulated. The policy of the Government of Bengal has 
been the antithesis of accommodating private money-lenders, 
and accordingly, agriculture is thirsting for loans whereas 
credit-money is dried up. This imperfect policy should be 
broadened by liberal vision. If the agricultural products 
could be pooled by an organisation, the difficulties of 
commercial Banks lending money for agricultural needs will 
be considerably overcome. In this wise, the credit agency may 
be improved. The extension of co-operative society under true 
co-operative principles in every thana is still a far cry. 
Moreover, the spread of co-operative movement requires 
literacy, training in citizenship, team work in common weal 
and Woe, and a state of efficiency which is at present non- 
existent. We favour the extension of co-operative principles in 
credit and other societies, but situated as we are, the other 
credit Agencies (such as private money-lenders) should be 
maintained in high efficiency to keep agriculture going. 

(4) Marketing scheme. Those who produce should not be 
brought out to market products, and some organisation should 
be plann'ed to do the work on behalf of producers in conjunction 
with the interest of consumers. 

Marketing should be on the commodity basis and the 
organisation should control the movement of the product from 
the field to the market. 

Marketing organisation is taken over by Government 
primarily to ensure remunerative prices for agricultural 



266 

commodities. By subsidy, by quota restriction, by market 
organisation and by tariffs, the quality, quantity and price of 
agricultural produce are maintained and improved. 

In the matter of marketing agricultural products 
(especially th'e money-crops and not the food-crops), we 
favour the principles followed in the English Marketing Acts 
of 1931 and 1933. In England the Agricultural Marketing 
Act of 1931 conferred powers upon proved majority of 
growers to coerce the minority into a specified course of action. 
The Marketing Board is empowered to fix prices of the 
commodity selected, divert products to factory or other 
purposes, to deflect supplies into particular channels, to refuse 
recognition to certain qualities of goods and to select selling 
agencies. The Marketing Act of 1933 empowered the Board 
of Trade to restrict imports of any agricultural products 
subject to the provisions of the 1931 Act, the primary object 
being the attainment of a remunerative level of prices. The 
policy has thus led to the establishment of monopolistic 
marketing organisations, subject to Government control. 
Raiyats are to be protected by the Marketing Acts, quota and 
tariff regulations to ensure fair prices of their produce. 

(5) Fertility of land. The task of improvement of 
agriculture is bound up with the question of increasing the 
capacity of land. It is well known that "under the hot 
conditions prevailing bacterial activity proceeds at a rate 
unknown in temperate climates, and the visible sign of that 
activity is loss of humus. Deficiency of organic matter is 
the outstanding feature of the soils of India 1 ." The 
agricultural lands of Bengal have been under cultivation for so 
long a period and it is questionable whether a return 
commensurate with their cost would be obtained so long as 
the humus problem remains unsolved. In such circumstances, 
the use of artificial fertilisers, as suggested, will be governed 
with caution and circumspection. The Report is indifferent 
to the "problem of humus", and accordingly it has not been 
able to judge the methods of improving the deterioration of 
the soil. It is difficult to maintain that "no further 
deterioration is likely to take place under existing conditions 
of cultivation" (Paragraph 165). Our planned agricultural 
economy should take note of how to make up deficiency in 
humus and mineral food requirements of the crops and to keep 
the soil-air, soil-water, soil-temperature and soil-micro- 
organism in a balanced state. 

1 "Encyclopedia of Scientific Agriculture," edited by H. Hunter, Volume 1, page 71. 



267 

Given such land, its productivity may be, furthermore, 
increased by growing more productive crops and by more 
intensive cultivation. 

The questions of improved plough, deeper cultivation, 
rotation of crops are all related to the primary problem of 
raising the fertility of the soil. 

Aus lands and high jute lands can easily be cropped more 
than *once. Potato, tobacco and other crops may be had 
during the winter time by liberal application of cow-dung and 
overcoming water-famine. If these lands become doublfe- 
cropped, the problem of cultivators remaining idle for the 
greater part of the year is considerably reduced. The main 
problem is of making water available during winter time in 
respect of aus and high jute lands. This emphasises the 
question of canalising silt-laden water in the moribund portions 
of the delta and of making tube-well water available for 
agricultural purposes. 

In Bengal there are areas (principally in Western and 
Central Bengal) which are eroded or damaged by deterioration, 
of rivers and of drainage; there are areas in the Sunderbans 
which are rendered unfit by salt deposits. All this has been 
referred to in paragraph 165 of the Report, but no programme 
of reconstruction has been discussed. By experimental 
'research it shall have to be found out what are the requirements 
for making the soil of the decadent areas fit for good 
cultivation or what crops suit salt-deposited lands best. It 
is no good recommending artificial fertilisers for those 
exhausted and unresponsive areas; that may make the 
situation worse. 

(6) Resuscitation of rivers. In Bengal, the resuscitation 
of the rivers which have already deteriorated and the adoption 
of measures for the conservancy of others form the most 
important item in the rural reconstruction programme. In 
West Bengal, Central Bengal and North Bengal which have 
now become mostly malarious, irrigation projects supplemented 
by storage works are urgently needed. It is only in East 
Bengal (with the exception of the area served by the old 
Brahmaputra river) the problems of declining rivers, 
deteriorating channels and of malarious infection do not arise. 
The rivers silt up by the railway and other high embankments, 
and there is consequential decline in agriculture and 
sanitation. This is a very grave and menacing problem in 
Bengal, and it will be seen that many of the fertile areas have 
been turned into infertile regions through unscientific 
embankments constructed either bv Government or by the 



268 

Railways. This raises a very important question if the 
landlords whose areas were once productive and who accepted 
the Permanent Settlement on the basis of the prevailing assets 
could claim compensation from Government or the Railways 
through whose embankments their estates have been 
permanently injured. The Government of India in their 
letter No. 1143, dated the 25th July 1856, admitted that there 
was a case for reduction of revenue payable by certain estates 
if they should be permanently injured, although they did not 
support the claim of compensation 1 . As for instance, a great 
portion of the Burdwan Division is considerably injured by the 
embankment policy, the Grand Trunk Road, the Rail-Road, 
etc., and there is thus a good and unanswerable case for 
reduction of the revenue of the affected areas, as admitted, or 
in thfe alternative of the restoration of irrigation facilities at 
Government cost. 

(7) Economic size of holding to be maintained. The 
Report in its paragraph 122 has attempted to define an 
economic size of holding. By economic holding they have 
meant the subsistence holding. But in a planned agricultural 
economy, the subsistence unit needs to be differentiated from 
an economic unit. An economic unit is to be determined by 
the play of the factors of production, and a subsistence unit 
will be ascertained after taking into consideration many 
monetary and non-monetary factors. Accordingly, both the 
units are bound to differ in area. This differentiation is 
essential because in our agriculture, our first aim will be to 
see that the labours of the human and cattle units do not run 
to waste. The effective economic unit may or may not be the 
subsistence unit. The main Report has indifferently treated 
this problem. 

(8) Subsidiary occupations. The subsidiary occupations of 
our agriculturists are generally the following: sale of 
cocoanuts, betelnuts and other fruits; sericulture and 
cultivation of lac in Malda, Rajshahi, Birbhum and 
Murshidabad; poultry farming and sale of eggs; sale of milk 
and vegetables; rearing of goats and sheep; working as a 
boatman in Northern and Eastern Bengal. 

The contention that agriculturists could be employed to 
build up and improve local cottage industries should be 
examined with caution. The primary aim is to employ 
agriculturists in the task of agriculture, and if there are 
economic holdings, cropped more than once and farmed with 

lu The Canal and Flood Banks of Bengal'* by W. A. Inglis, page 256. 



269 

wise selection of crops, the spare time could be profitably 
employed in the subsidiary occupations. It is mainly the 
surplus agricultural workers who should be absorbed in cottage 
and local industries. Women also can and do employ their 
time in helping cottage products. Cottage and rural industries 
are so important that they should be developed with the aid 
of full-time working people. The primary aim, so far as 
cultivators are concerned, should be to make agriculture 
remunerative and to employ their time, as far as possible, in 
their own work. 



Main Conclusions and Recommendations. 

1. The zamindari system is indigenous to the soil of 
Bengal; it remained undisturbed and it was preferred to other 
arrangements. The ' 'ownership" of cultivators was limited 
to the purpose of cultivation and the proprietary right of 
zamindars was never ignored. (Paragraphs 5 to 16.) 

2. The Permanent Settlement was made with actual 
proprietors of the soil. (Paragraphs 17 and 18.) 

3. The rights of raiyats are no derogation from the 
proprietary right of landlords. (Paragraphs 19 to 21.) 

4. The Permanent Settlement Demand did not leave one- 
tenth for zamindars; it was "an advance assessment' '. 
(Paragraphs 22 and 23.) 

5. The Protection Clause in Regulation I of 1793 does not 
guarantee the vital changes effected by the subsequent tenancy 
legislations. (Paragraph 26.) 

6. The main objects of the Permanent Settlement have 
been achieved. (Paragraphs 27 to 34.) 

7. The volume of public support with regard to the 
abolition of the Permanent Settlement has been negligible. 
(Paragraph 37.) 

8. The landowning community belongs to a ' 'minority" 
community. (Paragraph 38.) 

9. The condition of Bengal cultivators is better off under 
the zamindari system. Hence, there is no need for its 
abolition. The prejudicial effects of the State-purchase are 
pronounced; moreover, the State-purchase scheme is eonfisca- 
tory in nature and will lead to revolutionary changes. The 
case for State-purchase is not established. (Paragraphs 39 
to 42.) 

10. The principles of compensation adopted in the main 
Report involve expropriation on a considerable scale. 
'Landlords in the event of nationalisation should be fully 
compensated. The rate of compensation should be such as to 
guarantee the existing income of landlords. Payment would 
preferably be made in cash; if in bonds, they should carry 
interest at 5 per cent., guaranteed by the Government of India, 
free from income-tax. The arrear rents should be compensated 
for in two-thirds. The khas lands of landlords including 
those cultivated by bargadars should not be nationalised, if 



271 

the barga lands of rent-receiving raiyats are not touched. If 
bargadars are treated as tenants, they should be brought under 
Government at the same time as lowest cash-paying under- 
raiyats. The scheme of State-purchase should not be pursued 
piecemeal. (Paragraphs 43 to 47.) 

11. Fishery and Mineral rights should not be purchased. 
The right of zamindars to minerals including oil cannot be 
extinguished without compensation. (Paragraph 48.) 

12. Income-tax on agricultural income will burden 
landlords, prejudicially affect certain industries such as tea 
industry and complicate inter-provincial issues. (Paragraphs 
50 to 52.) 

13. If income-tax is at all imposed, landlords or raiyats* 
having incomes below two thousand rupees should be exempt; 
tauzis left with 25 per cent, or a reasonable margin of income 
after payment of revenue or rent and cesses shall also be 
exempt; income-tax should accrue only to the actually realised 
net incomes; agricultural income-tax should be earmarked for 
agricultural improvements. Income-tax should be discontinued 
when the limit of agricultural improvement is reached. 
(Paragraph 56.) 

14. Agricultural cess is opposed. In the matter of local 
taxation the principle of benefit should be the guide. 
(Paragraph 57.) 

15. The barga system is suited to the needs of the country; 
it is as old as the country itself and should not be abolished. 
Bargadars should not be declared tenants. The half-and- 
half system should be maintained. (Paragraphs 65 and 66. )< 

16. The object of tenancy reform should be to govern t he- 
conditions of tenure with an eye to the interests of agriculture. 
(Paragraph 67.) 

17. Landlord should be defined to include all rfcnt-receivers* 
and raiyat to include cultivators. The raiyati rent is low and 
under-raiyati rent high. There is no case for general 
reduction of rent. The fixity of rent may be guaranteed but 
in case of improvements effected by and at the expensfe of 
landlords, legitimate return of investments should be permitted. 
Landlords should be permitted to acquire lands from their 
occupancy raiyats on payment of compensation for improved 
farming and other purposes helpful for the country. The- 
occupancy right should be attached to land, not to raiyats. The 
unit of the economic holding should be maintained. The 
recommendations of the Report in paragraphs 312, 315, 316, 
and 319 of the Report with regard to realisation of rent are- 



272 

generally supported. But the proposal that postal receipts 
for money orders (regarding payment of rent) should be 
accepted as conclusive evidence is strongly opposed. In case 
of general refusal to pay rent, such arrears may be recovered 
as arrears of land revenue. (Paragraph 68.) 

18. The causes of agricultural decline are natural causes, 
imperfect legislations and governmental negligence. (Para- 
graph 69.) 

19. The Bengal cultivators are economically better 
situated. (Paragraph 70.) 

20. The impoverishment of Bengal has followed from the 
ruin of her own industries and the low per capita expenditure 
t>y the Provincial Government. (Paragraph 71.) 

21. There is no agricultural policy planned in the main 
Report. (Paragraphs 72 and 73.) 

22. There should be a Central Development Board for 
<x)-ordinating the activities of various nation-building 
departments and for carrying out schemes of rural 
improvement. The credit-worthiness of cultivators should be 
improved. Private money-lenders should be nursed, not 
discouraged. The extension of co-operative principles is 
desirable. Raiyats should be protected by subsidy, quota 
restriction, tariffs and Marketing Act. The principles 
followed in the English Marketing Act of 1931 and 1933 may 
be profitably adopted with regard to non-food crops. The 
capacity of the soil should be increased by solving the problem 
of humus. Improved plough, deeper cultivation and rotation 
of crops should also be resorted to. Artificial fertilisers for 
exhausted areas should be adopted with caution. The 
resuscitation of the rivers which have deteriorated and the 
adoption of measures for the conservancy of others should not 
be neglected. In areas which have been rendered infertile by 
the embankment policy and the high roads leading to the 
choking of rivers or a change in the course of rivers, there is a 
case for reduction of revenue of the affected estates, or, in the 
alternative, restoration of irrigation facilities at Government 
cost. The economic size of the holding should be distinguished 
from the subsistence holding. The primary aim is to employ 
cultivators in the task of agriculture and to make agriculture 
remunerative. It is the surplus agricultural workers who 
should be absorbed in cottage and local industries. If there 
are economic holdings cropped more than once and farmed with 
wise selection of crops, the spare time could be profitably 
^employed in the subsidiary occupations. (Paragraph 74.) 



Note of Dissent 

by 

Khan Bahadur Saiyed Muazzamuddin Hosain, M.L.C. 

Although I have agreed with most of the findings in the 
main Report with regard to the major issues, I feel there are 
certain observations and findings with which I have to differ 
as they are not based on reliable data. I propose to deal with 
them one by one in this note. 

1. Status of raiyats. The status of raiyats has been 
traced in the Report from the early Hindu period, but it is 
found that some apparent inconsistences have crept in. 
In paragraph 17 it has been held that during Hindu period 
the King never had any right to the soil and his right was 
restricted to exact a share of crops from every cultivator as 
tax. The authority of Manu has been cited to show that the 
land belonged to the person who cleared the jungle and brought 
it under cultivation and he could sell, give, bequeath or 
otherwise alienate it at his individual discretion. In 
paragraph 26 it has been stated that the position of the 
cultivators during the Moghul time was the same as in the 
Hindu period but in the second sentence next following it is 
stated "TKe old residential cultivators who were called Khud- 
kasht raiyats had the right to remain in undisturbed 
possession subject to the payment of the dues" and it has been 
observed that they had the right which subsequent tenancy 
legislation has called a right of occupancy. These later 
observations are not to my mind quite consistent with 
the finding that during Hindu period the cultivators were the 
proprietors of the soil and their position had remained 
practically the same during Moghul time. The right of 
occupancy given *to certain classes of cultivators by subsequent 
tenancy legislation was a much inferior right than that of the 
right of pn-prioiorship originally held by the cultivators during 
Hindu period and recognised by the Moghuls, Then in 
paragraph 43, it is stated that the cultivators' right from early 
historical times was limited by those of the King, and his right 
was primarily a right to cultivate and he could be evicted for 
failing to cultivate properly which is inconsistent with and 
contradictory to what is stated to be the cultivators' right in 
paragraph 17. In the next sentence in paragraph 43 it is 
stated that "at the time of Permanent Settlement their holdings 
were heritable and perhaps transferable' ' . I am definitely of 

19 



274 

opinion that the cultivators continued to be the proprietors of 
the soil from the early Hindu period till before Permanent 
Settlement of 1793, subject to payment of a share of crops to 
the State for administrative purposes, as price for protection 
of their crops and security of their life and property, and this 
view is supported by Mr. Sarada Charan Hitter's "Introduc- 
tion to Tagore lectures on Land laws of Bengal'*, pages 7, 24, 
and 30 from which the following extracts are quoted for 
ready reference: 

"He (the King) was entitled to a share of the usufruct of 
the lands in the occupation of his subjects not because he was 
the owner, but because a share was payable to him as the price 
for the protection afforded to life, liberty and property" 

(page 7) "The imposition of Kher a j (during Muslim 

time) did not deny the existence of property in land and take 
away the proprietorship of the cultivator. His right was 
alienable and the lands cultivated continued to be the property 
of the inhabitants who might lawfully sell or otherwise dispose 

of them" (page 24) "The English in India 

started with the assumption that 'all the soil belonged 
in absolute property to the Sovereign, and that all 

private property in land existed by his sufferance 

The existence of private property in land which', is 
the fundamental doctrine of Hindu jurisprudence and which 
as we have seen even the Muhammadan Government in India 
did not put out of sight, was entirely ignored. With this idea 
the Government in 1793 transferred in perpetuity a vast and 
the unmeasured quantity of land to a class of men who were 
and are known as zamindars, and property in soil was 
formally declared to be vested in them" (page 30). 

2. Status of zamindars. In paragraph 20 of the Report 
the following observations regarding the origin of zamindari 
are quite misleading : "It became a recognised tribute of the 
ruling power that as a matter of custom it had the combined 
right to the share of the produce, the right to the waste and 
the right to transit dues. This aggregate of rights from very 
early Muhammadan time was spoken of as the zamindari". 
The rights described were those of ruling powers and chiefs 
who had practically sovereign rights and they are quite 
distinct from the generality of zamindars who were either 
Revenue officers of Moghul time, who had acquired some sort 
of prescriptive and hereditary right to collect revenue on 
receipt of a share of the collection as allowance, or 
mere farmers of revenue with whom farming settlement was 



275 

made during early British period as detailed in paragraph 34. 
The few chiefs and ruling powers with whom zamindari 
settlement was made in 1793 can be counted on fingers and 
most of them have been mentioned in paragraph 34. But even 
their rights were limited to the collection of a share of crops 
for administrative purposes, which was the right of the 
paramount power and so it is not at all understood how 
it could be observed at the end of paragraph 34 that they had 
lost some of the privileges they had previously enjoyed under 
the Central Government. In any case, it should have been 
made clear in paragraph 34, that the vast inni--rily of the 
zamindars with whom Permanent Settlement was made in 1793 
belonged to the third and fourth class who were mere agents 
for collection of revenue. It is worth while quoting here an 
extract from answer to question 24 of the questionnaire by the 
premier zamindari association of the Province, viz., the British 
Indian Association. The extract runs as follows: 

' 'Moreover hereditary Government officers being assigned 
responsibility for filling up the quota of land revenue, 
cultivators were removed from direct connection with the state 
and left with a subordinate position. The zamindars appeared 
in the scene and before them 'all rights sank'.'' The extract 
clearly supports the view that the zamindars were originally 
hereditary officers of Government who were entrusted later on 
with the collection of revenue and they had no right in the soil. 
The fact whether by their being entrusted with the collection 
of revenue, the rights which the raiyats possessed from time 
immemorial disappeared is a question of opinion and the 
Commission as a whole has given its verdict in the negative on 
the point when in paragraph 43 of its Report it has definitely 
come to the finding that the zamindars of Bengal never had 
an absolute right of property in soil, nor was it intended to 
give them such right by Permanent Settlement. Their rights 
have always been limited by the rights of the raiyats. The 
hereditary officers of Government were only given the 
responsibility of collecting revenue and this did not amount to 
their being invested with any proprietary right. That this was 
really so will be clear from the finding of the Court of Directors 
in their despatch of September 1792 sanctioning Permanent 
Settlement: "On the fullest consideration we are inclined to 
think that whatever doubts may exist with respect to their 
original character whether as proprietor of land or collector 
of revenue, or with respect to the changes which may 
in process of time have taken place in their situation, there cai> 
at least be little difference of opinion as to the actual condition 



276 

of the zamindars under the Moghul Government custom 
generally gave them a certain species of hereditary occupancy, 
but the Sovereign nowhere appears to have bound himself by 
any law or contract not to deprive them of it; and the rents 
to be paid by them remained always to be fixed by his arbitrary 
will and pleasure which were constantly exercised upon this 
subject. If considered therefore as a right of property it was 
very imperfect and very precarious having not at all or but in 
a very small degree qualities that confer independence and 
value upon the landed property of Europe". Then again the 
fact that the profit of the zamindars during Moghul period and 
even during British rule comprised only one-tenth or one- 
eleventh of the assets is significant and goes to show that all 
their right consisted of only one-tenth or one-eleventh of the 
raiyati assets as commission for collection of revenue. They 
had no right to fix the raiyats' rent which used to be done by 
the Sovereign. They were entitled to only a percentage of the 
rents of raiyats; fixed by the Sovereign. Lord Cornwallis in 
his Minute of 1790 definitely draws attention to this fact when 
he states, "The question that has so much agitated in this 
country whether the zamindars and taluqdars are the actual 
proprietors of the soil or only officers of Government, 
has always appeared to me to be very uninteresting to them, 
whilst their claim to a certain percentage upon the rents of 
their lands has been admitted and the right of the 4 Government 
to fix the amount of those rents at its own discretion has never 
been denied or disputed. 

"Under the former practice of annual Settlement, 
zamindars who have either refused to agree to pay the rents 
that have been required or who have been thought unworthy 
of being entrusted with the management, have since our 
acquisition of the Dewany been dispossessed in numberless 
instances, and their lands held khas or let to a fanner and 
when it is recollected that pecuniary allowance have not 
always been given to dispossessed zamindars in Bengal, I 
conceive that a more nugatory or delusive species of property 
could hardly exist. " Much is now being made of the fact that 
in some cases dispossessed zamindars were given allowance as 
malikana. But at best it was of the nature of a compassionate 
allowance paid for the maintenance of the family of a 
discharged officer who was supposed to have some hereditary 
right to his office. Such was the position of the zamindars 
till before Permanent Settlement. 

3. Effect of declaration that zamindars were proprietors 
of the soil. It was for the first time in the course of 



277 

Permanent Settlement that the zamindars were definitely 
declared to be proprietors of the soil, but the Commission had 
definitely given their view in paragraph 35 of the Report that 
"so far as the raiyats were concerned it was never the 
intention to take away any of their existing rights: on 
the contrary it was clear that the intention was to allow them 
to go on enjoying the rights which they had always possessed 
by custom". But though this was the intention of the framers 
of the Permanent Settlement the fact of conferment of 
proprietary right on zamindars by Permanent Settlement 
Regulation had seriously prejudiced the interest of the raiyats. 
The zamindars began to assert themselves as absolute 
proprietors and succeeded in getting laws enacted directly or 
indirectly recognising them as having the right of choosing their 
own tenants, the right of vetoing transfers, the right of cutting 
and taking away trees grown in tenants' homesteads by tenants 
themselves, the right of forbidding excavation of tanks or 
sinking of wells or erection of brick built house at their sweet 
will, the right of fixing rents of new lands at their sweet will 
up to any amount, right of enhancing rent on the ground of 
rise in prices, though their revenue payable in rupee was to 
remain fixed in spite of decrease in the value of silver. In fact 
the raiyats who were originally proprietors and who were meant 
to be co-paftners in the benefit of Permanent Settlement were 
gradually relegated to the position of serfs or slaves, or still 
worse, and all this was directly or indirectly due to the 
declaration that the zamindars were proprietors. The report 
should have drawn pointed attention to these facts as our term 
of reference required us to set forth in details the effect 
of Permanent Settlement. It was only since 1928 that some of 
the grievances of the raiyats in these matters were removed, 
but the Act of 1928 again committed a blunder by recognising 
salami on transfer as a legal due, though it being a new impost 
since Permanent Settlement was abwab pure and simple under 
Regulation VIII of 1793. The Amending Act of 1938 has at 
last abolished the salami, but the raiyats are still labouring 
under certain disabilities, e.g., enhancement of rent, etc., 
which were not attached to their tenancies at the time of 
Permanent Setttlement. 

4. The State. In paragraph 41 of the Report it has been 
stated that the State, although still regarded theoretically in 
parts of India as the supreme owner of land, has never 
in practice claimed any actual proprietary rights in the soil. 
Its claim has been limited to a share of the produce. We do 
not agree that even theoretically the King had any right to 



278 

the soil. The idea that proprietorship of land vests in the 
Crown is foreign to India and has been imported to this country 
by the British rulers on the analogy of the land system 
prevailing m their own country. But whatever that may be, 
when it is Admitted that State never claimed any proprietary 
right and its right was restricted to a share of the produce only, 
now the question arises whether a Sovereign State with such 
limitations in its own rights could confer proprietary right to 
the zamindars which the State itself did not possess. This 
point should perhaps have been discussed in the report. It 
is the accepted principle of law that a person cannot confer a 
right better than his own and if he does, it will be ipso facto 
void. 

5. There is another legal implication in this connection 
which also need be considered. The East India Company 
having obtained the Dewany from the Moghul Emperor, were 
mere collecting agents of the sovereign power. Could they 
under the circumstances assume the capacity of sovereign power 
for conferring permanent proprietary rights in land? I 
merely mention this apparent anomaly and do not propose to 
discuss in detail. 

6. Rent of raiyats Pre-Permanent Settlement rents In 

paragraph 26 of the Report it is stated that during Hindu 
period one-sixth of the produce was the rent and it was 
increased to one-third during Akbar's time and generally to 
half during Aurangzeb's reign, and later on in paragraph 43, 
in the course of discussing the rights of raiyats, it has been 
stated that the raiyats' rights had become obscured during 
the latter part of the Moghul rule by an administration whose 
ever-increasing exactions of revenue was followed by rack- 
renting of raiyats. Facts and figures do not however justify 
that cash rents in Bengal proper were ever .equivalent to the 
value of half the produce or that there was ever any substantial 
enhancement in the Revenue of Bengal during Aurangzeb's 
time. There are also reliable figures from which it can be 
demonstratively proved that the rents of Bengal tenants were 
nothing like rack-rents during the Moghul Emperors of latter 
period. 

In paragraph 24 of the Report it is definitely stated that 
Akbar's system of assessment (which was one-third of produce) 
was never applied to Bengal and the revenue was fixed not 
after any measurement, but on the basis of rough estimate of 
cultivated area and assets. If that was so, the probability is 
that the assets were much underestimated and, the revenue of 



279 

Bengal during Akbar's time was not anything like one- third 
of the total produce. In paragraph 25 it is stated that the 
revenue of whole of Bengal including Bihar was fixed at 107 
lakhs during Akbar's time, some 76 years after it was increased 
to 131 lakhs by Shah Shuja in 1658. The increase included 
additional revenue for extension of cultivation, and including 
such additional revenue the increase worked out at 224 per 
cent. only. There was no further increase in revenue until 
Murshid Kuli Khan's time in 1725 when the revenue 
was increased from 131 to 142 lakhs (an increase of 84 per 
cent, only after a lapse of 67 years). How in the face of these 
figures it can be held that the rents of Bengal were enhanced 
from one- third of the produce to half during Aurangzeb's time 
Aurangzeb being contemporary and a brother of Shah 
Shuja. If the revenue and consequently the rents had really 
been enhanced at that rate, the increase would have worked 
out at 50 per cent., but the total increase in revenue including 
additional rent for new lands from the time of Todar Mai till 
the enhancement of Murshid Kuli Khan amounted to only 30 *8 
per cent. (22-4 + 8:4) and how can this 30 per cent, increase 
gradually made in the course of 143 years including additional 
rent for new lands be said to have been extortionate is beyond 
our comprehension. Even taking the enhancement of Aliverdi 
Khan made between 1740 to 1756, including Marhatta Chouth 
which was necessitated by exigencies of the time, and abwabs, 
the increase from the time of Akbar to 1756 (during a period 
of 174 years) works out at 139 per cent, and if allowance be 
made for additional rent for new lands it will probably be founrt 
that the real , :., ite enhancement during 174 years was not 
even cent, per cent. Side by side we may consider the figures 
of khas mahal revenue in Bengal which has doubled itself 
within 25 years even according to the note circulated to us. 
When it is considered that for rise in prices alone Government 
could enhance the revenue probably by more than 400 per cent, 
within 174 years, it will be seen how very incorrect is 
the observation in paragraph 44 that during the latter part 
of Moghul rule ever-increasing exactions of revenue were 
followed by rack-renting of raiyats. 

7. Rent at Permanent Settlement. At the time of 
Permanent Settlement although nominally half to nine- 
sixteenths was the rent of produce paying raiyats, the aggregate 
raiyati rent was calculated by Colebrooke and estimated to be 
one-eighth of the produce (vide Knight's introduction to 
Colebrooke's Husbandry and internal Commerce of Bengal). 
In Chapter VI of the Commission's report stray cases of rates 



280 

of rent of various villages or parganas have been cited to prove 
that the rates of rent at Permanent Settlement were very 
varying, and many of them were as high or higher than the 
existing average rate of rent of raiyats in Bengal. The rates 
cited are mostly for bighas of which there was no standard 
uniformity at that time. According to Grant a bigha was 
equivalent to :42 acre, whereas according to Colebrooke a Shahi 
Bigha was equivalent to -63 acre. Besides that it will be 
absurd to believe that the local standard of measurement during 
Permanent Settlement was only bigha of either of the two 
descriptions throughout Bengal, when in the course of District 
Settlement operations it has been found that hundred and one 
different standards of local measurement are prevalent even 
in a single district. Of all the cases cited, it is only 
Harrington's report about rates which was on the basis of acre 
which can be safely relied upon. According to him, in the 
course of enquiries made in two parganas of Rangpur district, 
he found the raiyats paying a flat rate of 15 annas per acre 
(vide paragraph 242 of the Report) . As regards price of paddy 
at Permanent Settlement it is stated, in paragraph 243 that 
the price was more like 6 annas than 8 annas a maund on the 
basis of some stray cases. Fortunately both the rate of rent 
and the price of paddy at Permanent Settlement are available 
from the invaluable book of Colebrooke (Husbandry and 
internal Commerce of Bengal), which was compiled in 1804. 
Mr. Knight of the "Statesman and Friend of India Office" 
appended an introduction to the book which was republished in 
1884 and it is worth while quoting him to show how very 
valuable the book was. According to Knight, "It contains so 
far as was known the sole picture we possess of what Bengal and 
its agriculture actually were at the time of Settlement 
(Permanent Settlement) while its value is enhanced by the fact 
that as an author in the words of Max Muller he 'never allows 
one word to escape his pen for which he has not his authority'. 3 ' 
From page xiii of Knight's introduction we get the following 
figures of Permanent Settlement period on the basis of 
Colebrooke' s book: 

(1) Grain 8 to 12 annas per maund. 

(2) Population 25,000,000 (of whole of Bengal including 

Bihar and Orissa). 

(3) Area under tillage 31,000,000 acres. 

(4) Gross rental of raiyats 40,000,000. 

(5) Gross value of harvest 320,000,000. 

(6) Proportion of .rent to harvest I/ 8th. 



281 

In page 15 of Colebrooke's Book it is definitely stated that 
"as a result of many enquiries in the course of which cheapest 
arid dearest provinces have been compared" he adopted annas- 
12 as price per maund of rice, wheat and barley in calculating 
the total value of gross produce which was found to be 
329,130,000 for 95,000,000 Bighas. In paragraph 243 of the 
Commission's Report however instead of quoting the final 
figures of Colebrooke, a stray remark made by him in one place 
has been quoted to show that prices of paddy were very 
uncertain being some time 8 maunds per rupee and at others 
2 maunds per rupee. In the absence of any other book dealing 
comprehensively with the question of yield, rent and prices of 
Permanent Settlement period we do not see why the figures in 
Colebrooke's invaluable book which deals with the figures of 
Bengal as a whole should be rejected merely because individual 
collectors of a few districts reported figures which did not tally 
with Colebrooke's average for the whole Province. I am 
definitely of opinion therefore that the finding of the 
Commission regarding price of paddy and rent during 
Permanent Settlement period are incorrect and I hold on the 
authority of Colebrooke that price of rice was annas 12 (and* 
consequently that of paddy annas 8) and that rent comprised 
one-eighth of the value of the gross produce. By dividing gross 
rental of raiyats (Rs. 40,00,000) by acreage under tillage 
(31,000,000) as given in Colebrooke's book we get Re. 1-5 as 
rent per acre. 

8. Fixity of rent. In paragraphs 37 and 38 of the Report 
the question of fixing the rent of raiyat in perpetuity at 
Permanent Settlement has been discussed. Quotation has been 
made from the despatch of the Court of Directors of September 
1792 sanctioning Permanent Settlement in which they definitely 
expressed that "It is an object of perpetual Settlement that it 
should secure to the great body of the raiyat the same equity 
and certainty as to the amount of their rent and the same 
undisturbed enjoyment of the fruits of their industry which we 
mean to give to the zamindars themselves." But pointed 
attention has not been drawn to the phrase "same certainty asr 
to the amount of rents" which leaves no room for doubt that 
the Court of Directors definitely wanted the rents of raiyat also 
to be fixed in perpetuity as the revenue of the zamindars. It 
is wrongly mentioned in paragraph 37 that "no provision to 
that effect was made in the Permanent Settlement Regulations 
which were enacted in 1793". In fact the Putni Regulation 
(VIII of 1793) definitely limited rents of Khudkasht to 
establish pargana rate. In Regulatiop IV of 1794 (the verjr 



282 

next year) it was provided for removing all doubts, that the 
rents of raiyats whose leases were cancelled owing to sale of the 
estate for arrear of revenue, should not pay rent at more than 
the pargana rate if they were allowed to hold on and rents of 
raiyats who took new lands should not also be fixed at more than 
pargana rate. It was thus made clear that as revenue would 
remain unaltered, though estates may change hands the rate 
of rent of raiyats should also remain unaltered though the lands 
may change hands. The wishes of the Court of Directors 
were thus fully given effect to. Beyond this nothing could 
possibly be done and the existing rents of all could not be 
declared as fixed in perpetuity because of the obvious reason 
that many lands at different stages of reclamation were being 
held at rates lower than the full pargana rate and the rent of 
such new tenancies were liable to enhancement up to the 
pargana rate. There might also be inaccuracies and errors 
requiring correction. That this was the reason of fixing the 
rates only to pargana rate, instead of fixing the existing rents 
in perpetuity will be apparent on reference to section 60 (2) of 
Regulation VIII of 1793 where it is definitely stated that the 
rents of resident raiyats could only be revised in the course of 
general revision of the pargana rate for equalising and correct- 
ing assessments. The only purpose of general measurement of 
the pargana was definitely laid down to be "For the purpose of 
equalising and correcting the assessment". "Equalising" 
evidently referred to making the unduly low rentals fixed 
during period of reclamation, equal to the prevailing pargana 
rate, sections 6 and 7 of Regulation IV of 1794, which was 
passed only a few months later extended this privilege of 
holding at the pargana rate to all classes of raiyat for all time 
to come. 

It is worth while quoting section VII of Regulation IV of 
1794 in extenso in this connection as this was really the 
Permanent Settlement Regulation of raiyat by which all rents 
then existing and all future rents were fixed in perpetuity on 
the basis of the pargana rates of 1793. The section reads as 
follows: 

4 The rules in the preceding section (i.e., the directions 
for settlement of all disputes regarding rent on the basis 
of established pargana rates) are to be considered 
applicable not only to the Pattas which raiyats are entitled 
to demand in the first instance under Regulation VIII of 
1793 but also to the renewal of Pattas which may expire 
or become cancelled under Regulation XLIV, 1793. And 
to remove all doubts regarding the rates at which the 



283 

raiyats shall be entitled to have such Pattas renewed, it is 
declared, that no proprietor or farmer of land, or any 
other person shall require raiyats whose Pattas may 
expire or become cancelled under the last mentioned 
Regulation; to take out new Pattas at higher rates than 
established rates of the Parganas for lands of same quality 
and description, but that raiyats shall be entitled to have 
such Pattas renewed at the established rates, upon making 
application for that purpose to the person by whom their 
Pattas are to be granted, in the same manner as they are 
entitled to demand Pattas in the first instance by 
Regulation VIII of 1793." 

The word in the phrase "They (raiyats) are entitled to 
demand in the first instance' 5 is very significant and leaves 
no room for doubt that all future new tenants demanding Patta 
under section 59 of Regulation VIII of 1793 were also entitled 
to get Pattas at the established pargana rates and all future 
renewals were to be at the same rate. That this is the correct 
interpretation of Regulation IV of 1794 is admitted even by 
the British Indian Association in paragraph 2 of their answer 
to question 51 of the questionnaire, though they explain 
pargana rate in their own way. 

It will* be thus seen that the framer of the Permanent 
Settlement had taken sufficient care to give effect to the wishes 
of the Court of Directors that the rents of raiyats should be 
as certain as the revenue of zamindars. 

9. Cause of failure of protection from enhancement. The 

observations in paragraph 39 of the Report that the intention 
of the authors of Permanent Settlement with regard to 
protection of raiyats from enhancement of rental was defeated 
by the omission to make any definite provision regarding 
pargana rates is- not therefore quite correct. It is true they 
relied on Courts for determination of pargana rate in every 
case of dispute. If the Courts had found any difficulty in 
determining pargana rates they could certainly decree the 
existing rents proved by landlords and in case of failure to 
prove existing rent the rent admitted by the raiyat could be 
decreed as is done by present-day Courts when they are not 
able to determine the prevailing rate or the landlords fail to 
prove the existing rent. 

The real cause of failure is hinted at paragraph 51, though 
not clearly explained. Government's nervousness for the 
safety of the revenue permanently fixed and the strong desire 
for the success of the Permanent Settlement made Government 



284 

^nact some anti-tenant legislations almost simultaneously with 
the Permanent Settlement. The chief among them were 
Regulation XLIV of 1793, and Regulation VII of 1799, The 
former gave powers to purchasers at revenue sales to cancel 
leases of raiyat though at the same time Regulation IV of 
1794 definitely laid down if the raiyat was allowed to stay on 
or allowed fresh settlement, his rate of rent should not exceed 
the pargana rate. Regulation XLIV of 1793 was thus the 
first encroachment on raiyat's right to proprietorship. For 
the first time it was enacted that his lease would stand 
cancelled on sale of the Estate at revenue sale and the incoming 
zamindar might or might not grant him fresh lease. This 
arbitrary power given to zamindars must have been responsible 
for ejectment and dispossession of many tenants and also for 
general enhancement in the rent, though definitely forbidden 
by Regulation IV of 1794. But to crown all the anti-tenancy 
legislation in came Regulation VII of 1799 the notorious 
Haftum which gave unlimited and arbitrary power of 
destraint to zamindars. This Regulation dealt the death blow 
to the raiyats' rights and handed over the raiyats to the 
complete mercy of the zamindars. This fact is admitted in 
paragraph 57 of the Report. The raiyats who were originally 
proprietors of the land and were meant to share the benefit 
of Permanent Settlement with the zamindars as co-partners 
were practically relegated to the position of serfs or slaves of 
zamindars. So it is not due to omission of defining pargana 
rates specifically but due to anti-tenant legislations that the 
intention of authors of Permanent Setlement to allow raiyats' 
right to hold at the fixed pargana rate was defeated. Since 
the enactment of Haftum in 1799 nothing appears in any 
enactment giving any protection to raiyats with regard to his 
amount of rent. The zamindars became all powerful and the 
sacred rights of raiyats were all trampled under foot and the 
worst apprehensions of the Court of Directors came to pass in 
spite of their detailed instructions in paragraphs 49 and 50 
of their Despatch of September 1792, sanctioning Permanent 
Settlement, urging the necessity of vigilance of Government in 
the protection of the tenants who were weak and ignorant and 
hence likely to be oppressed by the zamindars under altered 
circumstances. Since 1799 the year of enactment of the 
notorious Haftum till 1859 no legislation was enacted for 
protection of raiyats though several select committees sat and 
reported regarding object and result of Permanent Settlement. 
10. No attempt to give protection against enhancement in 
subsequent legislation. Since 1859 to 1885 there was no honest 
attempt to restore the raiyats all the rights which belonged to 



285 

them or which were meant to be enjoyed by them by the framers 
of Permanent Settlement. Very grudgingly they were given 
protection against ejectment, but not against enhancement of 
rent. The fact that the customary pargana rates were the 
maximum that could be demanded and they could not be 
enhanced except by force and that the raiyats' legal status 
whatever it may have actually become after the Permanent 
Settlement owing to anti-tenancy legislation, was one of 
immunity from enhancement beyond the pargana rate 
prevailing at the time of Permanent Settlement plus the abwabs 
then current, were entirely ignored when the Bengal Tenancy 
Act of 1885 was enacted authorising the landlords legally for 
the first time to enhance rents of raiyats on the ground of rise 
in prices of crops, and other grounds. Two of the most 
eminent members of the Rent Law Commission of 1880 were 
definitely of opinion that zamindars had no right to enhance 
rents of raiyat and so they opposed the enhancement provisions 
in the Tenancy Bill. Mr. Mackenzie, the then Revenue 
Secretary, observed in his Note of Dissent as follows: "I hold 
that the recognition as a resident raiyat rendered such a settler 
liable to pay his share of the revenue assessed in his village' 
according to the established local rates and not at any higher 
rates; I believe it was not the intention of the legislature of 
1793 to alter this, as to confer on the zamindars a power to 
enhance individual or general rates. The ordinary landlord 
under our legislature held no legal powers of raising the 
customary rates at all." 

Similarly another member of the Rent Law Commission. 
Mr. O'Kenealy observes: ik l would ask the members of the 
Committee to consider how far it is advisable to give any further 
facilities for enhancement, without protecting the raiyats from 
the ejectment theory, which has developed within the last 7 or 
8 years. The Government jama of the Permanent Settlement 
was about 2,85,87,772 or eight-tenth of the gross rental. 
One-third of the land was waste it is said. On these conditions 
if whole of Bengal had been under cultivation the gross rental 
would be 4,76,46,203. According to Board of Revenue it was 
in 1877 equal to 13,03,78,915. In other words the rates of 
lent which were intended to be fixed by Permanent Settlement, 
have been trebled and the raiyats are now being compelled to 
pay an excessive exaction of 8,27,32,733 yearly. If this 
amount be valued at 20 years' purchase it appears that we 
have deprived the cultivators of the enormous sum of 
16,51,00,000 sterling and given it to the zamindars who still 
cry for more." (Vide page 443 of Volume II of Report of 
Rent Law Commission.) 



286 

11. Unfortunate legislation in 1885 authorising 
enhancement. Unfortunately the landlords had grown too 
powerful by 1885 and the then legislature was landlord-ridden 
and so in spite of opposition from the two most eminent 
European members of the Rent Law Commission (one an 
eminent Revenue officer and the other an eminent Judge) 
enhancement of raiyats' rent by zamindars was made legal and 
for the first time after Permanent Settlement was provided for 
in the Statute Book. The observations of Mr. O'Kenealy 
quoted above was strongly criticised by one Mr. Knight of 
6 'Statesman and Friend of India" in his Introduction to 
Colebrooke's c 'Husbandry and internal Commerce of Bengal" 
without understanding the significance of fixity of rent and 
without having any knowledge of the documents of Permanent 
Settlement period especially the Despatch sanctioning 
Permanent Settlement in which it was definitely laid down 
that the great body of raiyats should have the "same certainty 
about the amount of rent which was proposed to be given to 
the zamindars themselves". What will be the meaning of the 
phrase "same certainty" if in the case of zamindars their 
revenue is to remain unaltered in spite of decrease in the value 
of silver and the raiyat's rent is to increase with the rise in 
prices of crops? The framer of Permanent Settlement never 
intended nor could intend that the rent of raiyats would change 
with the rise and fall in the price of crops, becanse on the 
authority of Colebrooke we get that prices were sharply falling 
and rising at about the time of Permanent Settlement so much 
so that in one year 8 maunds of paddy could be purchased for 
one rupee and in the next year 2 maunds would be purchased 
eagerly for one rupee (vide paragraph 243 of the Report) and 
so if rents were allowed to be altered on the ground of rise or 
fall in prices, the whole scheme of Permanent Settlement 
would have failed at once. For obvious reasons therefore it 
was the intention of the authors of Permanent Settlement that 
both the revenue and the rent should remain unaffected by 
prices. 

12. Present rent compared with rents of Permanent 
Settlement period. In Chapter VI of the Report several pages 
have been devoted to discussing the rates of rent at Permanent 
Settlement period but no finding even about approximate ratio 
of rent to produce has been given. No attempt has been made 
to compare the average rates of rent of Permanent Settlement 
period with the average rate now prevailing, though in my 
opinion it is very necessary for finding out the average rate 
of enhancements made since the Permanent Settlement. 
According to the figures given in the Introduction to 



287 

Colebrooke's "Husbandry and internal trade of Bengal' ', it 
has been seen that taking whole of Bengal, including Bihar 
and Orissa, the average rate of rent at Permanent Settlement 
period was Re. 1-5 per acre of cultivated land. In the main 
book of Colebrooke however only the acreage of tilled area 
appears as about 95,000,000 bighas or about 31,000,000 acres 
but the gross rental of raiyat is not found. It is difficult to 
surmise wherefrom Mr. Knight who appended the Introduction 
got the gross rental of raiyats as 4,00,00,000. It is however 
a known fact that the aggregate revenue at which permanent 
settlement was concluded was 2,85,87,772 and this comprised 
eight-tenths of the gross raiyati rental (vide Mr. O'Kenealy's 
extract already quoted). Of the remaining two-tenths, 
two-twenty-fifths which represented one-tenth of revenue 
(A X iV = &) was zamindar's profit and the balance 
three-twenty-fifths was evidently cost of collection regarding 
which no mention has been made in the Report at all. On the 
basis of these figures the gross rental of raiyats at Permanent 
Settlement would work out at (2,85,87,772 x = ) 3,57,34,715. 
But even taking the higher figure of 4 crores given by 
Mr. Knight on the authority of Colebrooke the average rate 
of rent per cultivated acre for whole of Bengal was Re. 1-5. 

Making allowance for rent-free tenancies, included in the 
total cultivated area, the average rate of rent-paying tenants 
would probably be Re. 1-7 or so per acre. The average rate 
of rent of raiyats of permanently settled area as calculated 
by Land Revenue office and circulated to members as 
abstract statement IX, is Rs. 3 now. But this Rs. 3 is the 
incidence of raiyati lands including homesteads and 
uncultivated area. According to foot-note to Table VII of 
Appendix IX of the Report, 20 per cent, of the raiyati area 
comprise homestead and other uncultivated area. So the 
raiyati incidence of rent for cultivated area only will work 
out at 3 X | = Rs. 3-12 per acre as against Re. 1-7 per 
cultivated acre at 'Permanent Settlement. The increase works 
out at 160 per cent. Thus from the most reliable record of 
the Permanent Settlement period (that is from the invaluable 
book of Colebrooke) we get that the rate of rents of raiyats 
of Bengal on an average has increased by about 160 per cent. 
The aggregate rent of 31 million acres of lands now held by 
Bengal raiyats (vide Table Via) at the Permanent Settlement 
period rate of Re. 1-7 per acre would be 4,45,62,500 or 445-62 
lakhs but in its place the raiyats are now paying 1,132-04 lakhs 
(vide column 3 of Table VII of Appendix IX of the Report). 
The raiyats are thus paying 686-42 lakhs in excess annually 
over what their rents should have been if the Permanent 



288 

Settlement pargana rates had been maintained as was intended 
by the authors of Permanent Settlement and originally provided 
for by Regulation VIII of 1793 and Regulation IV of 1794. 
This increase has of course taken place gradually in the course 
of 146 years. Even taking that the average amount realised in 
excess during these 146 years was only half of what is now 
found to be in excess, the aggregate realisation on this account 
would be half of 68442 lakhs x 146 = 49,962-66 lakhs or very 
nearly 500 crores. The raiyats were poor and illiterate and 
so the declaration about the fixity of the rate of rent which was 
as unalterable as the revenue of the zamindars could be trodden 
under foot like this and no question of sanctity of the solemn 
declaration of the sovereign authority could be urged on their 
behalf nor any claim to compensation for the apparent 
^expropriation. 

13. Actual effect of Permanent Settlement on zamindars 
and raiyats. It has been seen that the provisions of 
Regulation IV of 1794 protecting the raiyats' rent from 
enhancements for all times to come were made nugatory by 
the unlimited and arbitrary powers given to zamindars by 
Regulation XLIV of 1793 and Regulation VII of 1799. It 
has also been seen that the net results of this was that the 
rents of raiyats were enhanced and the increase on account of 
enhancement is estimated at 160 per cent. Raiyats' rents 
which according to Colebrooke was one-eighth of produce and 
should have been one-thirty-second or so now on account of 
rise in prices by four times, is now one-twelfth or so, and the 
area per head of raiyat has decreased by cent, per cent, since 
the Permanent Settlement, population having increased four 
times but, the cultivated area only two times (vide Colebrooke's 
area and population as compared with present cultivated area 
and population). 

On the other hand, the revenue of the zamfndar has remained 
what it was at Permanent Settlement and his net income which 
for Bengal portion was only 20 lakhs (one-tenth of the revenue 
of 2 crores) is now 10-32 crores minus 2 crores of revenue, 
which is equivalent to 8-32 crores. Zamindar's income has 
thus increased from 20 lakhs to 832 lakhs. The increase 
works out at 4,160 per cent. 

Such has been the actual effect of Permanent Settlement 
on the raiyat and the zamindar, that the zamindar not only 
appropriated all the benefits of Permanent Settlement to the 
exclusion of the raiyats who were meant to participate in the 



289 

benefit, but actually encroached on the rights of raiyats to 
such an enormous extent that they were practically reduced 
to the position of serfs or slaves. 

14. Present rent of Bengal raiyat compared with Punjab 
ahd Madras rents. There are remarks here and there 
especially in Chapters V and VI of the Report, which seem to 
indicate that the rate of rent of Bengal raiyat is quite low and 
that if Madras system of assessment were applied to Bengal 
the level of rents in Bengal would increase considerably (vide 
paragraphs 175 and 249, 203, 204). Taken abstractly we 
admit that the average rate of rent of Bengal is not high, 
though jbhe rate has almost trebled itself without any 
justification since the time of Permanent Settlement. But it 
is a mistake to think that the rents of Bengal are appreciably 
lower than the rentals prevailing in other provinces. From 
paragraph 184 of the Report it will be found that 43 per cent, of 
land of the Punjab is owned by peasant proprietors and the 
incidence of revenue is (Re. 1-9 per acre. So the peasants of 
Punjab holding directly under Government pay only Re. 1-9 
per acre, as against Rs. 3-5 per acre paid by occupancy raiyat 
of Bengal. In paragraph 186 of the Report it is stated that 
in the Punjab the rate per acre including water rates, District 
Board rates and lambardar's collection fees work out at Rs. 3-2 
per cultivated acre. In Bengal, the total of raiyati rentals 
together with valuation of khas cultivated area in possession 
of landlords at raiyati rate is 1,282 lakhs (vide Table VII). 
To this is to be added road cess which amounts to about 100 
lakhs, and another 60 lakhs is to be added for chaukidari tax 
so the total comes to 1,442 lakhs. If this be divided by the 
total cultivated area 289 lakh acres (vide Table I) we get 
very nearly Rs. 5 per acre. If consideration be made for 
another 4 crores which is indirectly contributed by Bengal 
raiyats as jute tax annually to Central Government, the charge 
per acre of cultivated land of Bengal will go up to Rs. 6-5 as 
against Rs. 3-2 of the Punjab. It might be contended that 
jute tax, which is an export tax, is not paid by the raiyats but 
by the consumers of foreign countries, but it should not be 
forgotten that if the foreign exporters had not to pay this tax, 
this additional amount they could pay to raiyat as price of 
jute. In any case Government would not have got this tax 
at all if the raiyat had not spent his capital and labour over 
jute production. In fact the State gets this tax as the direct 
result of raiyats' labour and capital, without spending a 
farthing in helping him to grow the crop. Water tax which 
the Government realises is spent wholly in maintaining the 

20 



290 

irrigational schemes and over and above that the Government 
has to contribute from its general revenue certain amount 
towards capital expenditure. Besides that water for irrigation 
is a necessity in the Punjab, without which very little crop 
would at all gfow in the area now irrigated. 

A raiyat who was getting only a nominal produce or nothing 
from an unirrigated area would gladly submit to a water tax 
of Rs. 3-8 per annum if he be sure of getting Rs. 35 per acre. 
A Bengal raiyat would not have grudged paying Rs. 5 per 
acre if areas not hitherto producing any crop could be really 
converted into crop-producing lands, and an income of even 
Rs. 25 per acre could be assured. These special taxes for 
special privileges should not to my mind therefore be taken 
into account in comparing the incidence of rent. The real 
incidence of rent is the rent proper which we have seen is only 
Re. 1-9 per acre in the Punjab as against Rs. 3-5 in Bengal. 
Even on the basis of average value of produce of the two 
provinces the rents would work out at Re. 1-9 (25 per cent.) 
and Rs. 3-5 (50 per cent.) respectively from the Punjab and 
Bengal. Bengal rent is thus slightly higher than that of the 
Punjab. Thus the remarks in paragraph 203 of the Report 
that expressed as a proportion of the value per acre of the gross 
produce, the average of the land charges paid in the Punjab 
is higher than the average rate of rent in Bengal is not quite 
justified. 

Then as to Madras, we get from paragraph 175 of the 
Report that the incidence of Government assessment works 
put at Rs. 2-9 per cultivated acre. The incidence in Bengal 
is Rs. 3-5 taking cultivated and uncultivated together [vide 
Table VI (a)]. From foot-note of Table VII we get 20 per 
cent, of the raiyati area comprise homestead and other 
uncultivated lands. So the incidence per cultivated area of a 
Bengal raiyat will be (3/5/ xf ) very nearly RG. 4-2. Assuming 
the average gross produce of Bengal as Rs. 50 per acre (though 
we do not admit it) and Rs. 34 of Madras as reported by the 
Revenue authorities of Madras, the proportion of rent to 
crops would work out at -f- and -^j- or less than -fa and 
very nearly -fa for Madras and Bengal respectively. The 
observation in paragraph 175 of the Report to the effect that 
if Madras system were applied to Bengal the effect would 
certainly be to increase considerably the level of cash rents for 
most of Bengal is quite unwarranted. That the observation 
is hopelessly incorrect can be demonstratively proved from 
what is stated in the previous part of the same paragraph. 
It is stated that four-fifths of the land of raiyatawari area in 



291 

Madras is dry and that value of all the crops on "dry" land 
is estimated to be only one-third of the value of gross produce 
grown on irrigated land. So if x be the value of produce of 
irrigated land and if Rs. 34 per acre as reported by Revenue 
Department of Madras be the value of average produce per 
acre, -}x + \y = 34 and y = \ X \x. From the above two 
we get that I2y x or ~^x = y. We then get the value of x 
as 1271 rupees and that of y lOf rupees. Or in other words 
an acre of irrigated land produces crops worth Rs. 127^ and an 
acre of unirrigated land produces crops worth Rs. lOf only. 

So we get that the value of produce per acre of irrigated 
land is Rs. 127-8 and that of unirrigated land Rs. 10-10. 
The rent of Rs. 7 or Rs. 8 per acre for a land which grows 
crops to the value of Rs. 127-8 is not at all higher than the 
rent of Rs. 3-5 per acre for the land in Bengal, which at the 
most gives Rs. 50 as annual yield. That the value of yield of 
irrigated land in Madras is really so high is corroborated by 
the fact that the price of land per acre is substantially higher 
than in Bengal. Good lands fetched as much as Rs. 500 per 
acre during worst period of slump in Madras, though in Bengal 
the value was estimated at Rs. 300 before slump, which must 
have fallen to Rs. 100 or so during slump. This fact of 
substantially higher value of yield of irrigated lands of Madras 
explains how rents at Rs. 75 per acre could at all be paid by 
under-tenants of some parts of Madras (vide paragraph 176). 

This comparison with Madras or the Punjab will not be 
fair unless we also take into account the land charges which 
Bengal tenants had been paying until recently in the shape 
of abwabs and salami which was also a kind of abwab, under 
section 55 of Regulation VIII of 1793, being a new imposition 
since Permanent Settlement. Even at the rate of 2 annas 
per rupee the annual aggregate abwab will be 1^ crore and the 
annual amount of salami paid to landlords through Collector 
for transfer of lands even during depression amounted to about 
\ crore. So if these things be taken into account it will be 
seen that Bengal raiyats have been paying appreciably more 
as land charges than the direct raiyats of Madras and the 
peasant proprietors of the Punjab. 

15. Bengal stands on a different footing with regard to 
rent. Bengal raiyats can claim 160 per cent, rent reduction. 

Comparison of rents of Bengal with those of other provinces 
is hardly called for, inasmuch as Bengal stands on altogether 
a different footing as far as raiyats 5 rents are concerned. The 
Bengal raiyat was given the same assurances about certainty 



292 

of the amount of his rent as the zamindar was given about 
revenue and so any enhancement of the original rent would 
amount to a clear breach of faith. We have seen that the 
average rate of rent has increased by nearly 160 per cent. If 
the zamindari system continues the raiyats of Bengal can fairly 
and reasonably claim their rents to be reduced on an average 
by 160 per cent., irrespective of the fact as to how they compare 
with the rates of rent prevailing in other provinces. 

16. Rents, if raiyats come directly under the State. But 

of course it will be a different matter if the State becomes 
landlord. When the State becomes landlord it will be fair to 
compare rates of rent of raiyat in other provinces under the 
State and to come to a decision as to what should be the fair 
rent. But we have seen that the rates of rent of Bengal raiyat 
are not certainly lower than those of the Punjab and Madras. 
There are some cases of abnormally high rentals in some 
districts which have been recommended to be reduced under 
section 112. But if the raiyats become all direct raiyats of 
State it will be a mistake to allow any general reduction in 
rent as we think that the raiyats will be better benefited if the 
increase in revenue is spent in improving agriculture. 

17. Future enhancement. In paragraph 276 of the 
Report it has been held that in the opinion of the majority 
there could be no justification for enhancement * so long as 
zamindari system continued. But in paragraph 262 it is 
mentioned that the provisions in the Tenancy Act for fixing 
fair and equitable rents should remain in force whether Govern- 
ment becomes the sole landlord or not. In the subsequent 
paragraphs the various provision for enhancements in the 
Tenancy Act have been discussed and almost all of them have 
been held as reasonable including that under section 29. But 
in view of the recommendation that there should be no 
enhancement so long as zamindari settlement continued, I 
think it should have been made clear that by legislation it 
should be enacted that the enhancement sections shall not 
apply to zamindari area except only the one on the ground of 
improvement effected by the landlord. 

18. Enhancement of rent of uneconomic holdings. I 

cannot agree with the recommendation in paragraph 268 
with regard to rents of uneconomic holdings. Section 35 has 
been in existence since 1885, but it has never been used to 
protect poorer tenants from enhancements and so it will be 
futile to trust too much on the section. The rent of raiyats 
who have no surplus products to sell should on no account be 
enhanced on the ground of rise in prices even if the raiyat be 



293 

directly under the State. In fact according to theory of 
economic rent, he should pay no rent at all, but I would not go 
so far. It is however only fair that such a raiyat should have 
immunity from enhancement. In determining whether he 
should have such immunity, the entire area held by him under 
various rights should be considered and not each holding 
separately. There should be a definite provision in the law to 
that effect. 

19. District revisional operations. I do not agree with 
the observation in paragraph 263 that district revisional 
operations are no less desirable than resettlements in khas 
mahals and temporary settled estates, and should be carried 
out on the same terms. If there be no further interference of 
rents by zamindars, it is hardly necessary that district 
settlement operation should be periodically undertaken for 
merely bringing them up to date. We think there should be 
revisional district settlement operations only if a large 
number of tenants apply or if the landlord applies and agrees 
to bear the cost of settlement. It will not be proper to force 
such settlement on unwilling parties. Unless the cost can be 
enormously reduced such settlements cannot be justified 
specially when the cost is to be met from the general revenue 

of the Province. 



20. Rates of compensation. As regards rate of 
compensation for acquisition of the zamindari rights by the 
State, it is mentioned in paragraph 101 of the 'Report that 
the majority support 10 times of the net profit. In my opinion 
the zamindars cannot claim compensation on the basis of 
existing assets which include enhancements in rates which were 
never thought of when Permanent Settlement was made with 
their predecessors. In fact in accordance with the wishes of 
the Court of Directors sanctioning Permanent Settlement and 
the provisions of sections 6 and 7 of Regulation IV of 1794 
they were definitely precluded from making any enhancement 
in the pargana rates. It was definitely made clear by the 
Regulation referred to that even if the raiyats' leases stood 
cancelled on the sale of the estate at revenue sale, the zamindar 
could not demand rent at more than the pargana rate from the 
new tenant if the land was leased out to a third person nor 
could he claim higher rental from the old tenant if he allowed 
him to stay on. Thus the same principle as was applicable to 
zamindaries on sale was applied just as the revenue would not 
change with the change of zamindar, the rent also would not 
change, though the tenants might change. If the zamindar 
now takes his stand on the solemn declaration of Regulation I 



294 

of 1793, he must take it with all its contingencies and must not 
at the same time go behind the solemn declaration in Regulation 
IV of 1794. He has already perpetrated a great injustice and 
wrong to the raiyat by enhancing his rents and realising the 
enhancement for over 146 years. It will be nothing short of 
putting premium on exploitation if the zamindar is to be 
allowed compensation for the enhancements made in rent, 
against the spirit of Permanent Settlement and contem- 
poraneous legislations. The expropriation already made by 
enhancing rents of raiyats can perhaps be condoned in view of 
the fact that most of the present-day zamindars got their 
estates by purchase on the basis of rents already enhanced, 
but to allow compensation for the enhanced portion of rent 
will make Government liable to the charge of encouraging and 
abetting exploitation and expropriation of raiyats. I am 
strongly of opinion therefore that all that the zamindar can 
justly claim is that he should be given such compensation as it 
may secure to him the net income which he would get from his 
zamindari if no enhancment in rents had been made. It has 
already been seen that the aggregate rent of raiyats on the basis 
of Permanent Settlement rate of rent would be 4-46 crores 
and from this about 2*15 crores is payable as revenue. So 
the net income of the zamindars would be only 2*31 crores. No 
deduction is made for road cess as it was not contemplated at 
Permanent Settlement. I would pay the zamindar 20 times 
of 2-31 crores as compensation on the analogy of compensation 
under the Land Acquisition Act. I would pay him another 
5 crores for all his uncultivated lands and forest areas. So in 
all I would pay 51 crores instead of 77*9 crores on 10 year's 
basis as shown in paragraph 128. If 77*9 crores be the 
compensation on 10 time basis, 51 crores would be the capitalised 
value of very nearly 7 years' net profit according to present 
assets. In my opinion legally and fairly the zamindars 
cannot claim more than this, 

21. Acquisition of bargadars' superior interest. This is 
one of the most knotty problems which the Commission had to 
deal with. Paragraphs 111 to 114 of the Report deals with 
this subject. But I am not at all in agreement with the final 
decisions arrived at. In fact the Report merely discusses the 
various aspects of the problem, but does not give any decision. 
In one place it recommends that the bargadars should be given 
some right though not all the rights of occupancy raiyats and 
his rent should be limited to one-third of the produce (vide 
paragraph 146). In another place (paragraph 114) suggestion 
is given for acquiring the superior interest of bargadars after 
commuting barga rent to cash rent. To my mind none of these 



295 

proposals are practical. Fixation of rent of barga to one-third 
of crops will be of no help to a bargadar, unless he is given 
full occupancy right. But if he is given full occupancy right 
and rent is fixed at one-third the produce, he will certainly be 
considered a rack-rented tenant. The proposal of acquiring 
superior right after cummuting barga rents is equally 
impractical. It will be inequitable and unjust to commute 
barga rents, as the bargadar was not at all a tenant so long 
and on that understanding the land was let out to him. 
Besides that many of the lands let out in barga comprise 
purchased lands purchased privately or in rent sale on 
payment of full market price. It will be very harsh if they 
are now expropriated by the State on payment of a nominal 
compensation only. On the other hand if substantial 
compensation at 5 times the net profit is paid for barga lands 
it would cost 60 crores and the acquisition scheme will fail. 

The best solution of this difficult problem seems to me 
to allow all people who enjoy lands by letting out in barga, 
some time say 3 years or so, to have their lands converted to 
khas lands cultivated on hired labour system and to notify 
that after this period any land found in possession of any 
bargadar, will be forfeited to the superior interest for purpose 
of direct settlement with the bargadar at cash rent. If 
action is tetken on these lines barga system will disappear 
within 3 years, without causing any hardship to anybody. 
I would however make exception in the case of widows, 
orphans, invalids and of people in jail or outside Bengal and 
permit them to let out lands in barga temporarily so long as 
they are under disability. 

22. Compensation not at a flat rate. Compensation is 
proposed to be given to all classes of landlords at a flat rate, 
but I think it will be most inequitable and unfair not to make 
any consideration for facts which go to raise or lower the prices 
of zamindari estates in the open market. Small taluks are 
much in demand and so their prices are at least double if not 
treble that of big zamindaries. Similarly revenue-free estates 
and rent-free taluks command much higher price than revenue 
paying and rent paying. Khareja taluqs fetch higher price 
than dependent taluqs. Margin of profit also plays some part 
in commanding price. All these various factors must be 
considered and proper consideration made for them in fixing 
compensation. It will be a lame excuse to say that calculation 
will be difficult and tedious if all these are to be taken into 
account. If for the purpose of acquisition a new set of record- 
of-rights can be prepared at an expense of several crores why 



296 

should not every effort be made to be as just and equitable as 
possible as between landlord and landlord. If no consideration 
be made for factors detailed above, it will operate very 
harshly on the poorer petty taluqdars. If it be found 
impossible to take all the various matters into consideration 
in fixing rate of compensation, at least a graded compensation 
on the basis of net income of each estate should be given. If 
7 times or 10 times is finally decided upon as the capitalised 
value of compensation, I would recommend graded 
compensation as follows: 

At 7 times At 10 times 

Basis. Basis. 

For estates with net profit of Rs. 2,000 

or less .. .. .. 10 15 

For estates with net profit of above 

Rs. 2,000 and less than Rs. 5,000 . . 8 12 

For estates with net profit of 

Rs. 5,000 and above and less than 

Rs, 10,000 . . . . 7 10 

For estates with net profit of 

Rs. 10,000 and above and less than 

a lakh . . . . . . 6 8 

For estates above a lakh 5 6 

These rates will be more or less in accord with market 
rates. 

23. In paragraph 267 of the Report, it is practically 
admitted that enhancement made for rise in prices caused 
hardship during slump but no suggestion for mitigating the 
hardship has been made. In Bihar they have abated all 
enhancements since 1918. Why should we not also allow such 
abatements in our Province? I am of opinion that abatement 
in the rent to the extent of enhancement be allowed in all the 
rents enhanced whether through Court or amicably since 1918. 

24. In paragraph 86 of the Report it has been noticed 
that the tenants of permanently settled area do not generally 
get any remission in rent during agricultural calamities, but 
no remedy has been suggested. I strongly recommend that the 
iGovernment should have powers to allow remission in rent to 
tenants with proportionate remission of revenue, without 
reference to zamindar. 

25. Economic condition. Chapter V of the Report which 
deals with economic condition in Bengal and the provinces 
visited does not give a correct and detailed picture of the 
economic condition of Bengal raiyats. No attempt has also 
been made to give comparative figures of income in different 



297 

provinces. I propose first to examine the aggregate annual 
value of gross produce of Bengal as set forth in the Report and 
then to compare it with that of other provinces. 

26. Yield of paddy per acre in Bengal. In my opinion 
both yield and value of produce in Bengal has been 
overestimated. On reference to Table IV of Appendix IX, it 
will be found that the average yield of paddy has been taken 
as 18-8 maunds per acre. Last 25 years' average of 
Government of India's statistics of estimate of yields shows an 
average of 15-9 maunds only and we are in favour of accepting 
this figure, firstly because there is no other more reliable figure 
on the strength of which this figure can be rejected, and 
secondly because the figures of actual consumption with which 
I will deal presently goes to indicate that the India Government 
figure of estimate is more correct than the figure of 18-8 arrived 
at more or less by guess, without any scientific data. The 
figures of import and export of paddy in Bengal very nearly 
balance each other. So all the paddy that is grown is entirely 
consumed by the people of Bengal. The total rice eating 
population of Bengal is 480 lakhs of whom 70 per cent, are 
agriculturists or agricultural labourers. The percentage of 
agricultural labourer in Bengal is 29 per cent, according to last 
Census (vid^e paragraph 180). Percentage of families nolding 
less than 2 acres is 41-9 (ride paragraph 173) and their 
condition is no better than that of labourers. So in all 70:9 
per cent, of the agriculturists or nearly 50 per cent, of the total 
population are in a desperate condition. From Table VIII (d} 
it will be found that the rate of wages of agricultural labourers 
is on an average 4 annas 3 pies per day during harvest season 
and 3 annas 3 pies during other season. But even if 4 annas be 
taken as their average wages, we have to make allowance for 
idle days during which they <?et no work. On an average the 
labourers get wofk at the most for 9 months in the year. So 
the average annual income of a labourer will be Us. 7-8 x 9 = 
Us. 67-8. Expert agricultural labourers who are employed 
as whole-time agricultural servants are generally paid Rs. 5- 
per month or Rs. 60 per year plus food. The labourer has to 
support 5 members of his family including himself at Rs. 67-8 
a year and the expert labourer has to support 4 members 
excluding himself at Rs. 60 a year. Even if another Rs. 12 
be added as contributed by the boy-member who works as cow- 
boy, the total income of the family will be Rs. 79-8 or Rs. 72 
with which 4 or 3 members are to be maintained. If 9 maunds 
of paddy be taken as average consumption as adopted in the 
Report and Rs. 2 as price of paddy per maund, Rs. 72 or Rs. 54 



298 

be spent on paddy alone and the family will be left only 
with Rs. 7-8 or Rs. 18 per year for all its other expenses. For 
other articles of food (e.g., oil, condiments, vegetables, salt, 
fish, betel, tobacco, etc.) alone a family of 4 or 3 will require 
at least Rs. 30 or Rs. 25 per year. Besides that they will also 
require some Rs. 10 for clothes and kerosine oil. How can 
they find money for all these absolute necessaries of life without 
which they cannot do ? They are perforce compelled to reduce 
their paddy consumption by one-third and have to be content 
with 6 maunds of paddy per head per annum on an average 
including womenfolk and children. For the reasons explained 
above and also for the fact that I know that more than 50 per 
oent. of people of Bengal live on half ration for more than six 
months, I am definitely of opinion that the average consumption 
of 60 per cent, of the population including richer upper class 
who can afford other substitute articles of diet also and do not 
take paddy as much as a labourer or an agriculturist does, 
cannot be more than 6 maunds per head per annum; 60 per cent, 
of 480 lakhs of rice eating population is 288 lakhs and they will 
consume 1 3 728 lakhs of maunds of paddy at 6 maunds per 
head and the remaining 40 per cent, comprising 190 lakhs will 
consume 1,710 lakhs maunds at 9 maunds per head. The total 
consumption will thus be 3,438 lakhs of maunds. To this may 
be added another 257 lakhs of maunds on account of eeds at the 
rate of 1 maund per acre. The total will then come to 3,695 
lakhs of maunds. This being divided by 257 lakhs of acres 
^vhich grow paddy we get 14*4 maunds per acre. Thus 
according to our calculation the average outturn of paddy 
cannot be more than 14-4 maunds per acre, but as this is only 
an indirect way of calculation for checking only, we are 
prepared to accept the Government of India figure of estimate 
of 15 9 maunds and nothing in excess of it. 

27. Yield of pulses and mustard. The yifeld and valuation 
of (a) other food crops including pulses and (fc) rape and 
mustard have also been very much overestimated. All these 
.are second crops of minor importance and their value per acre 
cannot be anything like Rs. 27 or Rs. 31 as shown in Table IV 
against Rs. 37, the value of paddy per acre. According to my 
estimate their value should be reduced to Rs. 12 and Rs. 16 per 
acre. I have also serious doubts if fruits and vegetables give 
as much as Rs. 60 per acre and miscellaneous Rs. 21-8 but in 
the absence of any definite data I would not disturb them. If 
my estimate of yield of paddy and value of "other food crops 
including pulses" and "rape and mustard" are accepted, the 
total figure of yalue of yield will decrease by (25675 x 2-9 x 2) 



299 

for paddy, (2254x15) for pulses, (1013x15) for rape and 
mustard = 197, 922 thousand rupees. The aggregate value of 
produce will then stand at (1433297-197922) =1,23,53,75,000 
rupees in place of 1,43,32,97,000 in Table IV. The total 
cultivated area being 28,940,000 acres, the value of gross 
produce per acre would then work out at Rs. 42-11 as against 
Rs. 50 shown in Table VIII (a). 

28. Gross produce per head of agriculturist. The figure 
of gross agricultural produce per head of agriculturist given 
in column 7 (b) of Table VIII (a) is entirely incorrect as the 
gross produce has been divided by agricultural population 
excluding rent-receivers, though the aggregate produce, 
includes produce of 4 million acres of khas land which is enjoyed 
by rent-receivers. If the aggregate value of gross produce as 
found by me be divided by the total Agricultural population we 

A 1,235,375,000 , _ _ , , . 

get ' XQI nnn ver y near ly l* s - 37 per head as the average 

L ,UUU 



value of gross produce per head of agriculturist as against 
Rs. 46 shown in Table VIII (a). 

29. Economic condition of Bengal compared with that of 
other provinces. Let me now examine the economic condition 
in Bengal. There are observations here and there in the Report 
which seem to indicate that the economic condition in Bengal 
is not at aft serious (vide paragraphs 180, 201, 202, 204) and 
is better off than Madras and the United Provinces. No 
attempt however has been made to record comparative figures 
of income of different provinces either in the Report or in the 
statistics, though materials for such comparison were collected 
and circulated among the members of the Commission. I give 
below a comparative statement showing value of gross produce 
for head of agriculturist in different provinces: 

Gross agricul- 

XT f Total agricultural Total value of tural income 

Name of provide. pop ,Tl ation . produce . per head of 

agriculturist. 
Rs. Rs. a. 

1. Bengal .. 33,421,000 1,23,53,75,000 37 0* 

2. Bihar and Orissa . . 28,500,000 84,10,00,000 29 9 

3. Madras .. 20,900,000 1,15,86,00,000 55 7 

4. United Provinces .. 35,000,000 1,23,88,00,000 35 7 

5. Bombay .. 13,400,000 87,33,00,000 65 

6. Punjab .. 13,600,000 72,10,00,000 53 
*Accord ng to Appendix IX it is Rs. 46 but we have seen this cannot be accepted. 

It will be seen from the above comparative statement at a 
glance that only in Bihar the agriculturists are decidedly worse 



300 

off than the agriculturists of Bengal. United Provinces 
agriculturists seem slightly worse, but they more than make up 
their position by sheep and cattle rearing and dairy farming 
which they pursue extensively as subsidiary occupation. As 
regards Madras there is some difference of opinion as .to 
agricultural population. In the statement above, Census 
figures have been taken as correct, but from a note of Census 
Commissioner it seems the agricultural population is not 46 per 
cent, but distinctly more than 50 per cent. Even if it is taken 
as 52 per cent, the average per head of Madras agriculturist 
will be more than that of Bengal. There is also one special 
feature of economic importance in Madras and it is the fuel 
wood which grow extensively in the jungles and waste lands 
and the agricultural labourers, whose number is very large in 
Madras being 44 per cent, of the total agricultural population, 
make a living by cutting the fuel wood and selling them in 
market. In Madras both the areas of culturable waste and 
the area of not culturable are more than double that of Bengal. 
It is not therefore at all correct to say that economically Bengal 
is better than Madras as mentioned in the Report. Bombay 
and the Punjab are of course decidedly better. 

30. Large number of uneconomic holdings in Bengal. In 

paragraph 173 of the Report the Commission draws attention 
to the disquieting feature that 41-9 per cent, of the afgricultural 
families hold less than 2 acres and 20*6 per cent, between 2 and 
4 acres, but looks upon the problem of these uneconomic holding 
of land with supreme indifference when it opines "It makes 
little practical difference if the rent of such holding is high or 
low, nor does it make any practical difference if the rent is 
reduced because the difference would be too small to have any 
appreciable effect on the cultivator's budget." But rent is not 
the only question, though it is absolutely wrong that it does not 
much matter whether the rent of such tenancies are high or 
low. According to principles of political* economy such 
holdings should have no rent at all, but in any case it is the 
clear duty of the Revenue authorities not to be supremely 
indifferent to the economic condition of raiyats at the time of 
settling fair rents or allowing enhancements. Such mechanical 
settlement of rent without a touch of human feeling, has made 
the administration unpopular and I would draw the attention 
of Government and public to this fact. The Commission should 
have in my opinion grappled with the question of ever- 
increasing uneconomic holdings and should have tried to suggest 
some solution instead of shirking the problem by merely saying 
it is extremely difficult. The Punjab Land Revenue Committee 
made certain recommendations for creation of a special 



301 



development fund for improving the economic condition of the 
uneconomic holders of land. The Premier of the Punjab has 
thrown out an original suggestion of earmarking the rents 
realised from such tenants for improving their condition. In 
my opinion, if the proposal of State-purchase of zamindaries 
materialises, the Government should certainly create a fund for 
helping the uneconomic holders of land by purchasing lands for 
them or by diverting an appreciable number of them to other 
avenues of life. 

31. Average income of 70 per cent, of the agriculturists of 
Bengal. Now what is the average income of these uneconomic 
holders of land. The gross value of 2 acres is only Rs. 74 
according to my calculation and Rs. 100 according to Appendix 
IX. One-third of this is the actual cost of cultivation for which 
the agriculturists have to pay (vide paragraph 168) and so the 
net income is only about Rs. 50 or Rs. 66 per annum and on this 
5 -2 persons have to live. Average income per head will 
therefore be less than Rs. 10 or Rs. 14. Just consider how a 
human being can subsist on Rs. 10 to Rs. 14 per head per 
annum and yet that is all with which 41-9 per cent, of 
agriculturists and the entire agricultural labour population of 
Bengal comprising 29 per cent, of total agricultural population 
(whose average income per family is also only Rs. 60 or so per 
month) have to be content with. More than 70 per cent, of 
total agricultural population of Bengal are thus * ' such 
a miserable existence. To public men and economists the 
percentage of uneconomic holders of land was not so long 
available and so they hitherto dealt only with averages. The 
figure of percentage of uneconomic holders of land compiled by 
the Commission makes the startling revelation that more than 
70 per cent, of agriculturists are in desperate condition. 

32. Precarious condition of raiyats indirectly due to Land 
Revenue policy agd not merely to over-population. The Report 
has not pointedly drawn attention to this very important fact. 
On the contrary it has mentioned that this precarious condition 
of the uneconomic holders of land is due to over-population and 
not to any defect in the revenue system. But in my opinion 
the revenue system is indirectly responsible for this inasmuch 
as owing to inelasticity of land revenue due to Permanent 
Settlement, Government could not undertake any costly scheme 
for improving the economic condition of the raiyats; and the 
zamindars in their turn, never thought it was their duty at all 
to do anything for them. If the Punjab Government had not 
spent 38 crores as capital expenditure on irrigational schemes 
and had not thereby increased the cultivated area by 150 per 



302 

cent, the raiyats of Punjab today would have been worse than 

those of Bengal. It is interesting to quote here the reply of 

Rev. Victor J. White of Australian Baptist Mission to our 

question 7 of the questionnaire. His reply runs thus : 

"Practically the whole increase in value has been created by the 

Community and it is this unearned increment collected in the 

form of rent that largely explains the large increase in value, 

from the time of the permanent settlement viz., 3 crores 

compared with present valuation which may prove even more 

than 16 crores as stated. One may quote the statement of Sir 

Michael O'Dwyer concerning the Punjab which may just as 

easily be said of Bengal: 'We took over the Punjab in 1840. 

It had an area of 80,000,000 acres of which 12,000,000 only 

were under cultivation. The average value was then Rs. 5 per 

acre. There were no roads, railways, and canals. In 1920 as 

the result of security, railways and canals 30,000,000 acres are 

under cultivation and 12,000,000 acres irrigated at an average 

of 25 per acre. Thus the capital value of land has risen in 

70 years of British rule from 8,000,000 to 750,000,000.' 

"It would be interesting to have a similar statement 
concerning the increase in land values in Bengal/' 

33. Capital expenditure by Government in different 
provinces for increasing raiyats' income. The aggregate land 
values of Bengal have also considerably increased, but chiefly 
due to pressure of population and consequent demand for land, 
but except for railways and roads, very little was contributed 
either by the State or by the zamindars towards canal or any 
irrigational or other project for increasing the income of the 
raiyat by increasing the yield of crops. The statement below 
shows comparative figures of capital expenditure on irrigational 
projects of different provinces of India : 

Government capital 

XT r-n expenditure on irriga- 

Name of Province. t ^ n or navigatio * 

in lakhs. 

Madras .. .. .. 2,016 

Bombay .. .. .. 1,075 

Bengal .. .. ..351 

United Provinces .. .. .. 2,861 

Punjab .. .. .. 3,492 

Sind .. .. .. 2,975 

These figures are taken from The Bengal Weekly of 9th October 
1939. 



303 

Even for Sind with a total population of only 29 lakhs; 
nearly 30 x crores have been spent for helping the raiyat in, 
increasing his income, as against 5 crores only for Bengal with 
17 times as much population as in Sind. If big irrigational 
schemes like those of the Punjab and Sind might not be* 
suitable for Bengal, smaller ones, and indigenous tank 
irrigational projects could be usefully financed if the 
Government had sufficient funds at its disposal. There are 
hundred and other ways of helping the agriculturists in 
improving their condition if sufficient money be forthcoming. 
Far from financing schemes for improving the lot of 
agriculturists, the Bengal Government could not spend 
sufficient money even for running their Agricultural Depart- 
ment efficiently. Whereas all the other major provinces where* 
there is no Permanent Settlement, have been spending on an 
average 25 lakhs or so on Agricultural Department, Bengal' 
could not see its way to provide more than 12 or 13 lakhs. 
Be it stated here to the shame and disgrace of Bengal that 
Bengal has not yet got an Agricultural College of its own. 
Agriculture which is the main industry of Bengal has been 
starved and this was due to paucity of funds on account of' 
inelasticity of land revenue, in spite of cultivators paying 
their due share of rent at a rate not less than that of the 
Punjab aixl Madras. Is not therefore the revenue system of 
Bengal indirectly responsible for the present deplorable 
condition of its agriculturists? 

34. Subletting. In paragraph 149 of the Report it has 
been recommended that pending State acquisition of zamin- 
daries subletting should only be discouraged by fixing the 
maximum rent at one- third in excess of raiyats rent, but it 
should not be altogether forbidden. I do not appreciate the 
logic behind it aijd do not agree with the proposal. Subletting 
in any form (including barga) should at once be forbidden for 
all future time to come and the penalty for disobedience should 
be forfeiture. When subinfeudation and subletting have been 
held to be evils, why again allow them at all for future? 

35. Transfer of raiyati right to non-agriculturists. I do 

not at all agree with the conclusions detailed in paragraph 
152 of the Report. I am definitely of opinion that whether 
zamindari system goes or remains, passing away of land ta 
non-agriculturists should be altogether stopped in the interest 
of the cultivators. I realise the difficulty in defining 
agriculturist, but even if the definition be not an ideal one,. 



304 

our object will be achieved if in 90 per cent, of cases 
non-agriculturists are prevented from purchasing raiyati lands. 

The suggestion that if sub-lessees of non-agriculturists are 
given sufficient security and protection against excessive rents, 
there seems to be no great objection to the lessor retaining the 
incidents of occupancy raiyats, is absurd. We will in that 
case be allowing subinfeudation again, and creating a worse 
type of overlords than zamindars, over the actual cultivator, 
though we have held such intermediate overlordship as not at 
all desirable. 

For improving the lot of agriculturist, we should not only 
stop passing out of lands to non-agriculturists, but should also 
stop accumulation of large areas in the hand of particular 
agriculturists also, and both these restrictions should be 
effectively enforced whether the raiyats come directly under 
the state or remain under the zamindars. 

From Table VIII (/) of Appendix IX it will appear that of 
the lands transferred, within last 12 years, about 62 per cent. 
is being enjoyed by purchasers through other persons and in 
only 38 per cent, of cases the purchasers themselves are 
cultivating the land. It should be an eye opener and should 
show how steadily lands are passing out to non-agriculturists. 
We cannot therefore lay too much stress on the necessity of 
immediate legislation both for stopping lands passing out to 
non-agriculturists and accumulation of too much lands in 
particular agriculturist's hands except for special reasons, e.g., 
scientific agriculture, etc. 

36. Agricultural credit. I am not at all satisfied with the 
recommendation regarding agricultural credit as set forth in 
paragraph 299 of the Report and do not see my way to agree 
with the half-hearted sympathy shown for the., agriculturists in 
their present crisis. For various reasons agricultural credit 
lias practically become extinct. With the passing of the 
Moneylenders Act, the creditors will generally prefer to be 
satisfied with 3^ per cent, interest by investing their money in 
promissory notes or other debentures. So if nothing be done 
immediately and in an extensive scale for supply of agricultural 
credit facilities the agriculturists will have to finance 
agriculture by selling portions of their land. They have already 
"begun this perforce as the report of Registration Department 
shows that transfer deeds have doubled and bonds and 
mortgages have proportionately decreased. It is the sacred 
cluty of Government to save the agriculturists from their 



305 

perilous position by providing facilities for short-term loans. 
For short-term loans it is not at all necessary nor desirable that 
they should be given through co-operative societies. In 35 
years, the Co-operative Department has succeeded in enlisting 
only 6 per cent, of agricultural families as members of 
societies. If loans are given through societies, those will be 
confined only to members. It will take a long period to enlist 
all agriculturists requiring loans, as members. Besides that, 
the rate of interest if loan is given through societies cannot be 
less than 8 or 9 per cent, as the money will have to pass through 
depositors, Provincial Bank, Central Bank and rural society 
and each of these will keep some margin of profit. Further, 
knowing as we do of the office-bearers of societies, we 
apprehend that lion's share of loans will go to the relations of 
office-bearers. I think therefore it will be much better to 
arrange to give short-term and intermediate loan directly by 
Government through officers of Co-operative Department on 
joint bond system one co-operative officer being placed in 
charge of each thana who besides distributing and realising the 
loans, will also look after marketing facilities of agriculturists 
and look after Government store houses, if any, started within 
his jurisdiction. If co-operative movement is now practically 
to be confined to short-term loans only, what is the necessity 
for all the* hierarchy of banks and societies? It will be much 
better that the Government should finance agriculture through 
its own officers, by giving out agricultural loans, not only for 
relief of agricultural calamities only, but also for ordinary 
expenses of agricultural operations and for purchasing cattle 
when they are dead or disabled. I am strongly in favour of 
giving out direct loans to agriculturists at 6^ per cent, interest. 
Government instead of fearing to undertake this agricultural 
finance business should rather feel encouraged to do so in view 
of the results of .collection of agricultural loans. If no other 
province or country has taken any such responsibility, lot 
Bengal take the lead in this matter and get the credit 



Joint Note of Dissent 

by 
Sir F. A. Sachse, c.s.i., C.I.E., 

and 
Mr. M. O. Carter, M.C., i.cs. 

Paragraph 101. The report gives little indication of the 
reasons why compensation 01 10 times the net income of each 
rent-receivfer found the greatest measure of support among 
the members of the Commission. It may be assumed that the 
present market value of zamindari interests was the main 
consideration with the majority of the members. Few estates 
in Bengal change hands except as a result of forced sales, 
either in the Civil or Revenue Courts. Even if a sufficient 
number of voluntary transactions could be traced, on which 
to determine the market value of the estates and tenures in 
the Province, it might be unfair to attach top much importance 
to the prices paid during recent years, in view of the political 
conditions prevailing and the apprehensions that have been 
raised by recent tenancy and relief of agricultural indebtedness 
legislation passed in this and neighbouring provinces. 

In the absence of a reliable market rate, it is difficult to 
specify any principle on which a particular number of times 
the net profit should be chosen as being the most equitable. 
In proceedings under the Land Acquisition Act, the number 
of years' purchase allowed is generally 16|, 20, or 25 according 
to whether the interest that could be expected from reinvesting 
the money received as compensation in the same type of 
security is 6 per cent, 5 per cent, or 4 per cent. If the present 
rate of interest on safe investments is 3^ per cent., the 
investment at this rate of compensation awarded at even 15 
times the net income would give a return to each rent receiver 
of little more than half his present income. 

It is quite clear that financial considerations make it 
impossible to pay compensation which invested at any 
reasonably safe rate of interest would ensure to each rent- 
receiver his present income. The majority of the Commission 
have stated m paragraph 101 that they are not proposing the 
abolition of the zamindari system for the sake of increasing 
the Government revenues; this is a subsidiary motive. Their 
main reason is to place Government in a stronger position to 



308 

develop agriculture, and to manage the material resources of 
the Province to the greater advantage of the community as a 
whole. We are inclined to think, therefore, that the 
recommendation of the Commission for State acquisition will 
obtain more impartial consideration on its merits, if it is 
divorced entirely from any suspicion of being an attempt to 
augment the public revenues at the expense 01 any particular 
class. We arte in favour of that rate of compensation which 
after full consideration by financial experts, seems to offer the 
greatest prospect of leaving Government with no considerable 
loss and with no considerable gain, at least for the first 20 
years, as a result of taking over the responsibilities of the 
landlords. From the estimates as prepared it appears that 
from this point of view 15 times the net income should be the 
basis of compensation. We are convinced that 10 times is not 
a fair rate of compensation. 

Paragraph 123. In estimating the net profit of landlords, 
the majority of the Commission have recommended that 18 
per cent, of the raiyati assets of each estate should be deducted 
on account of management and collection costs. In view of 
the fact that only 9 per cent, of the gross assets is generally 
allowed for the cost of management of Government estates, 
this deduction seems to be excessive. It is true that it is not 
proposed to deduct 18 per cent, from the net income of each 
grade of rent-receiver in turn: it will be distributed among the 
various grades of landlords in proportion to their existing 
costs of collection. Thus in estates where a large amount of 
subinfeudation exists, it is possible that 18 per cfent. would not 
come to more than the present management expenses of all 
the landlords added together. In those estates, however, 
where the raiyats are paying their rent direct to the zamindars, 
18 per cent, seems too high a rate, evfen though it includes the 
cost of litigation and other expenses which Government may 
avoid as the sole landlord. The percentage deducted on 
account of collection charges in Land Acquisition proceedings 
is 10 per cent. We think that 12| per cent, would be a more 
equi table figure than 18 per cent. In any case the figure 
should not be more than 14 per cent., which is the estimated 
cost of Government's management after acquisition.. 

Paragraph 147. The Commission as a whole has committed 
itself to the opinion that the continuance of the barga system 
of cultivation is irreconcilable with the ideal system of 
landholding which it envisages, namely, peasant proprietors 
cultivating their own lands and paying revenue direct to the 
State. It is idle to expect that the barga system can be 



309 

extinguished by any form of legislation which puts a veto 
on subletting: there would be many loopholes for evasion. If 
it proves impossible to prevent subletting either on cash rents, 
or on a share of the produce, Government would either have to 
abandon the attempt to maintain direct relations with the 
actual cultivators, or undertake the acquisition of rent- 
receivers* interests at intervals of 30 or 40 years. 

Tn any case the proposed veto on subletting would not help 
existing bargadars. The recommendations of the report on 
this point are not very definite. It is true that the Government 
is advised to amend the Tenancy Act so as to incorporate the 
provisions in the Bill of Sir John Kerr's Committee, which 
declared that those bargadars who provide the plough, cattle 
and agricultural implements should be raiyats or under-raiyats, 
<is the case may be, and to limit their legal tfent in all cases 
to one-third of the produce. But it is suggested in paragraph 
114 that the interests of raiyats who are having their lands 
cultivated by bargadars should not be acquired until the 
interests of those who have sublet on cash rents have been 
acquired. This recommendation seems to contemplate a 
supplemental stage of acquisition proceedings, after the main 
proceedings have been completed, instead of after 30 or 40 
years, the alternative to leaving subletting and transfer 
uji restricted, which the Commission regarded as undesirable in 
paragraph *139. 

We think that the acquisition of lands regularly cultivated 
by bargadars is a more pressing reform than the acquisition 
of lands let to under-raiyats on cash rents. If Rs. 6-3, the 
average rate of rent paid by under-raiyats, is held to be 
excessive, then the value of half the produce, which may 
average Rs. 25, must be an exorbitant rent for bargadars. As 
long as all classes of sub-tenants have adequate rights, we do 
not regard subletting, or even the passing of occupancy rights 
into the hands of 'non-agriculturists, as such serious evils that 
they must be stopped at all costs. We think that the best 
method of discouraging non-agriculturists from buying the 
rights of agriculturists is to give substantial rights to bargadars. 
If that is done there is no absolute necessity to veto subletting, 
or to restrict transfer, either before or after the zamindari 
system is abolished. The grant of adequate rights to 
bargadars, including the restriction of their maximum rent to 
one-third of the gross produce, will sufficiently discourage 
subletting during the period of transition. If it is decided to 
proceed with the plan of State acquisition, the same treatment 
should be accorded to lands sublet on cash rent and lands 
sublet on a share of the produce. 



310 

Paragraph 104. It has been suggested by the Commission 
that superior landlords may have to realise the arrear rents 
due to them from subordinate tenure-holders by attaching their 
compensation through the Civil Courts. 

The mortgagees of estates will also have to attach the 
compensation paid to the owners of encumbered estates and 
tenures. In many cases the compensation may not cover the 
balance of the debts outstanding. It is a question whether the 
staff which is appointed to assess the compensation and to pay 
it out should be empowered to scale down such debts by 
legislation on the lines of the Encumbered Estates Act of the 
United Provinces. 



Note of Dissent 

by 
Dr. Radha Kumud Mookerji, M.L.C., M.A., PH.D., P.R.S, 

This Note is to be considered along with my historical Note 
appearing in Volume IT of our Report, and also in the light of 
the data collected by me by local investigations on the spot 
and brought together in the form of a Note appearing in the 
Volume on Evidence. 

Grounds of difference. I regret to have to differ from some 
of my colleagues on certain questions of both fact and principle 
and also on the methods of approach to some of the problems 
we had to investigate. My position is that I set more store by 
the need of agricultural reform than the need of overhauling the 
land system, since I find that the ills of the peasantry are due 
to causes and circumstances for which the existing land system 
is not responsible. My study of the facts of Agriculture 
makes me doubt whether any change in the present land system 
of the Province, however radical or even revolutionary, can 
effect a material change in the lot of the peasantry and make it 
better. In my opinion, the Report gives itself more to a 
discussion* of the ways and means of abolishing the present 
land system as an end in itself than to a discussion of the 
ways and means of improving the condition of the peasantry. 

Agricultural Conditions in Japan. Before considering the 
facts of Bengal's agriculture and the factors depressing it, I 
should like to take a comparative view of the conditions of 
agriculture in a progressive country like Japan, which 
resembles Bengal in regard to her agricultural economics, so 
that conditions in Bengal may be seen in their proper 
perspective. 

More than half of the total arable land of Japan is under 
rice. 

Agriculture in Japan employs about half its population, 
although only 16 per cent, of its total area is cultivable. As , 
a result, Japan's agriculture is even more severely handicapped 
by the pressure of population on the soil. The problem of 
Japan, as in Bengal, is due to "many men on little land", 
with the result that the size of the average farm unit is getting 
smaller and smaller (W. Ladajinsky in Foreign Affairs for 
January 1939); 69 per cent, of farm households cultivate less 
than 2^ acres per family, amounting to 33 per cent, of total 



312 

arable land of 15 million acres. Twenty- three per cent, of the 
total cropped area is held by 204,000 families, making up 4 per 
cent, of total agricultural families. It does not appear that 
the Government of Japan has attempted to check this unequal 
distribution of the land and wide prevalence of uneconomic 
holdings. The conditions of landhokling are also not 
dissimilar. In 1936 farm households cultivating their own 
land constituted 31 per cent, of the total number of f;arm 
families; 27 per cent, rented all the land they cultivated; and 
42 per cent, were part-tenants and part-owners. Absentee 
landownership is very extensive. The shortage of land and 
lack of alternative occupations has resulted in increasing and 
competitive rents. 

The burden of rents on the Japanese peasant is much 
heavier than in Bengal. In Japan, rent is a fixed number of 
bushels of rice per unit of land, and is thus paid in kind. A 
poor harvest hits the tenant. The minimum rental for a one- 
crop field equals 55 per cent, of the crop and for a two-crop field 
60 per cent. 

Over and above this heavy burden depressing the Japanese 
cultivator, he has even to supply the capital for cultivation. 
This reduces his net share to ( a third of the crop. 

Indeed, Agriculture is more heavily taxed than Industry. 
According to an investigation made in 1934 by the Imperial 
Agricultural Society, on an annual income of 300 yen, a 
farmer pays 35 per cent, in taxes, a merchant 12 1 per cent., 
and a manufacturer onliy 1^ per cent. 

Next to tax load is the debt load which amounts to 135 yen 
per household. Thirty-one per cent, of net annual (average) 
value of agricultural production is absorbed by interest on debt, 
although rate of interest is not higher than 15 per cent. 

The limit of intensive cultivation has been reached and owing 
to the enormous sums spent on manure the cbst of cultivation 
is barely below the selling price of the produce. The Law of 
Diminishing Returns has ruthlessly asserted itself. Industry 
does not directly help Agriculture, because its raw materials 
like cotton are imported. Government has tried to control the 
price of rice by restricting imports and has also taken measures 
to convert tenants into landed proprietors by buying up land 
and distributing it among cultivators with insufficient land, 
but neither of these measures has been attended with a large 
measure of success. It is stated that ''with the single 
exception of 1913, agricultural receipts fell short of meeting 
household expenditures, i.e., cost of living, and forced farmers 



313 

to fall back upon non-agricultural) income to make up the 
deficit." (Isobe: "Labour Conditions in Japanese 
Agriculture".) 

The main drawback is the low price of rice not covering the 
cost of cultivation. 

Up to 1936, only 3 per cent, of total agricultural debt has 
been redeemed by Government (Ibid.} 

They are worse than in Bengal- It will thus appear that 
the conditions of Japanese peasantry are hardly more 
favourable than those confronting the Bengal peasantry, 
although Japan is free to pursue schemes of scientific planning 
in all spheres of her national life, economic or political. 

The Bengal peasant pays lowest Rent and has largest 
Rights. The extant land system of the Province may be now 
judged in terms of its effects on the life of the peasantry and 
the conditions of cultivation. It is to be noted that the 
Commission as a body has agreed on two fundamental points, 
viz., (1) that the Bengal peasant pays the lowest rent of all the 
provinces in India, in terms of the proportion it bears to grosa 
produce and (2) that he has been endowed with the largest 
measure of rights which, barring the obligation to pay a rent 
to his superior landlord, amount to the full rights of 
proprietorship, including unrestricted right of transfer of his 
holding. 

Rent as related to Produce. As to (1), some relevant fai-ts 
may" be pointed out in this connection. According to the 
accepted statistics of the Commission, the average value of the 
gross produce per acre is to be taken at Rs. 50 while the average 
rate of rent paid by the occupancy raiyat is Rs. 3-5 per acre. 
This means that the rent paid by the Bengal peasant amounts 
to as little as about one-sixteenth of gross produce. It may be 
noted in this connection that even the average rate of rent of 
Rs. 3-5 per acre Vill be reduced to about Rs. 2-10 per acre, if, 
as pointed out by Rai Bahadur M. N. Gupta, the higher rents 
charged for temporarily settled estates, Government Khas 
Mahals, and the old ceded districts of 24-Parganas, Burdwan 
and Midnapore, are excluded. It may also be noted that 
excluding these more highly assessed districts, the incidence of 
rent of mokarari raiyats amounts to Rs. 2-1-9 per acre, or 
one-twenty-fourth of gross produce. 

Rent in the United Provinces. As stated in the Report, 
"In the United Provinces, the average rate of rent for 
all classes of tenants is Rs. 6 an acre and represents 
approximately one-fifth of the value per acre of the produce. 



314 

The level of rent is nearly twice as high as the level in Bengal, 
and having regard to the value of the produce it is about three 
times as much." 

Rent in Madras. The Madras level of both assessment and 
rents is much higher than that of Bengal. Half the net profit 
is believed to be the highest land tax in the world. Payment 
of revenue in money adds to the hardship of the system. To 
add to this, though the assessment is not enhanced during the 
currency of the 30 years' Settlements, there is no limit to its 
enhancement in the form of water-rates, second crop charges 
and other miscellaneous items of land revenue during this 
period. 

Rent in the Punjab. The Commission's finding is: 
"Expressed as a proportion of the value per acre of the gross 
produce, the average of the land charges in the Punjab is 
higher than the average rate of rent in Bengal." I have 
personally worked out the details of assessment in the Punjab 
with the help of the Financial Commissioner, Mr. C. C. 
'Garbett. 

The Punjab is a province of small landowners or peasant 
proprietors, 20 per cent, of whom hold less than 1 acre, 18 
per cent, about half an acre, 40 per cent. 2\ acres, and 26 per 
cent. 8 acres (Darling L. R. C. Report). 

The landowners themselves cultivate about 44 per cent, of 
the total cultivated area of the province; occupancy tenants 
only about 7 per cent.; while tenants-at-will cultivate 4.7 per 
cent. 

The tenants-at-will pay rent in kind (batai) to the extent 
of half the gross produce, besides contributing their own 
plough and cattle. 

"It is the practice in the Punjab to calculate net assets on 
the basis of these rents and to check them by the cash rents 
prevailing in the circle"* (Ibid, page 7). "Under the 
Punjab system, net assets are based upon landlords' rentals 
and not upon owner-cultivators' profits. After working out 
his calculation of net assets, the Settlement Officer considers 
what proportion should be taken as the land revenue demand, 
subject to the statutory limit of 25 per cent." (Ibid, pages 8 
and 9). 

"Until 1928, however, the maximum permissible ratio was 
50 per cent. This is the ratio still obtaining in Bombay, 
Central Provinces and Madras. In the United Provinces, it 
is 40 per cent., but less (subject to a limit of 25 per cent.) in 
the case of estates of small holders" (Ibid, page 63). 



315 

The charges which a cultivator of canal irrigated land in 
the Punjab has to meet from his crop before he can consider 
the remainder his own are described below. It may be noted 
at the outset that the total irrigated area of the province 
(under canals) amounts to 1178 million acres or to more 
than one-third of the total cultivated area (31 million acres). 
The capital expenditure on these canals amounts to about 38 
crores on which a return of about 9 per cent, is realised by 
Government. The return is derived from water-rates. 

The following items make up the total burden of charges 
thrown on the Punjabi cultivator of irrigated land: 

(1) Land revenue at half of net assets equals 25 per cent. 

of gross produce. 

(2) Water-rate atRs. 3-8 per acre equals 15 per cent, of 

gross produce, taking the average value of crops 
per acre at Rs. 25 (as estimated by the Director 
of Land Records) . 

(3) Charges for menials (artisans, blacksmiths, cobblers, 

carpenters, etc., in the service of the village)' 
amount to 10 per cent, of gross produce. 

(4) District Board and other cesses of 12^ per cent, and 

lambardar's fee of 5 per cent, on revenue come up 
to 4 per cent, of gross produce. 

Thus the total burden of charges per acre amounts to about 
54 per cent, of gross produce or more than half. It may be 
noted that recently item No. 1 on land revenue has been reduced 
to one-fourth of the net assets ( = 12| per cent, of gross 
produce) . But the previous rate is still in force in areas which 
are yet to come under Resettlement. Again, as the Commis- 
sion's Report explains, "By net assets is meant the average 
surplus which the estate is expected to yield after deduction 
of the expenses of cultivation; and the expenses of cultivation 
are assumed to be half the gross produce, which is the amount 
generally paid to the peasant proprietors by their tenants- 
at-will." 

Our unanimous finding on the subject is thus stated in the* 
Report : 

"Our conclusion, therefore, is that considering the level of 
rents obtaining in the provinces we have visited, the value of 
the produce, and the prevailing economic conditions, there 
would be justification for enhancements rather than reductions 
of rent in Bengal." 



316 

A source of increase of Land Revenue. The consequence of 
the above conclusion is that there is a vast source of additional 
land revenue which may be tapped! in Bengal. This can be 
done by levying an additional cess on the rents of raiyats at a 
rate which will bring them up to the level established in other 
Provinces. In fact, the proportion of Land Eevenue to total 
Revenue is less in Bengal, mainly because the basic rents are 
much lower in Bengal, ranging, as they do, between half and 
one-fourth of the rents prevailing in other Provinces. The 
proposed cess, unlike the existing cesses (Road, Public Works 
or Education cesses) , will not of course be charged to landlords, 
but only to raiyats, in view of the fact that the benefit of low 
rents is exclusively enjoyed by the raiyats. In my opinion, 
Government should fully explore this available avenue of 
increase of revenue for the Province. 

Low rent due to Permanent Settlement. The low level of 
rents in Bengal is traceable to the Permanent Settlement. 
This point has been mentioned in the evidence tendered by the 
leading Jurist of the Calcutta High Court, Mr. Atul Chandra 
Gupta, who states. "I do not think that the permanency of 
the revenue demand by the Government has led to enhancement 
of raiyati rents. It is difficult to see why the Permanent 
Settlement should lead to that effect. Prima facie, the effect 
would be in the contrary direction. The expectation, expressed 
in paragraph 6 of the Permanent Settlement Regulation as to 
the effect of c the public assessment being fixed for ever' on the 
demands of the zamindars on the raiyats has to a certain 
extent been realised. Tn any event, I think that the pressure 
on the raiyats would have been far greater had the land revenue 
demands been not fixed as made by the Permanent Settlement/' 

This view was also taken much earlier by Robert Knight, 
the talented Editor of 'The Statesman", in his Introduction 
to his edition of Colebrooke's valuable work called Husbandry 
in Bengal, in which he states: "The Zemindar has carelessly 
sublet to the Patnidar, and the Patnidar to men below him, 
until we have a mass of middlemen tenure-holders to deal 
with, who would never have come into existence at all, had 
the Zemindar wisely enhanced his rentals as money changed in 
value, as the acreage under tillage became wider by the 
growth of population. The Zemindar's sin has been his 
cureless neglect of his own interests." 

Tenants given all possible rights. As regards item No. 
(2), it is undeniable that, as a result of the various Tenancy 
Acts passed since 1859, practically all rights of full proprietor- 
ship have been passed to the tenants, barring their obligation 



317 

to pay rent which also they are in no hurry to pay as it 
becomes due, and in this sense they are better off than their 
superior landlords whose punctual payment of the 
revenue due from them to Government is strictly enforced by 
the mechanical operation of the Sunset Law. 

No scope for further improving their position. In these 
circumstances, it is difficult to see what scope there is for any 
change in the land system to improve the condition of the 
peasantry when it is impossible to reduce further their rents or 
to invest them with more rights and greater protection. Their 
rents are already at their minimum, while there hardly remain 
any rights which can be transferred to them. 

This point has been admitted unanimously by the Commis- 
sion, who state: "But the incidence of rent has little effect on 
general economic conditions. Rent is one of the least 
important items in the cultivator's budget. We are not pre- 
pared to say that there is any difference between the economic 
condition of a rent-free, and a rent-paying cultivator. The 
fertility of the soil, the yield of crops and the price of 
agricultural produce are factors which have a far more 
important bearing on economic conditions than the level of 
rent. It is obvious that a bargadar who can produce 24 
liiaunds o paddy on fertile land, and takes half the produce, 
is just as well on as a rent-free raiyat who can produce only 
12 maunds on barren land. Rent materially affects economic 
conditions when it approaches the full economic rent, i.e., 
when it leaves practically no margin after the cost of cultivation 
and living expenses have been paid." 

Causes of their distress. Thus the fact of the matter is 
that the distress of the Bengal peasantry is due not to the land 
system but to causes and circumstances which are partly their 
own creation an'd partly beyond their control. 

Over-population. The first of these is increase of popula- 
tion and its too much pressure on the soil. The desperate 
consequence of this over-population is that Agriculture is in 
the grip or rather the stranglehold of uneconomic holdings and 
has become now a completely losing concern. The unanimous 
finding of the Commission is that ' 'there is not enough land 
to go round. There is now slightly less than one acre of 
cultivated land per head of the agricultural population. As 
- population increases, the available land per head of the 
population decreases. We consider that the pressure of 
population on the land is the ultimate cause of Bengal's 



318 

economic troubles. It is the most difficult problem which we 
have to face because it is virtually impossible under present 
conditions to suggest any remedy for it." 

Uneconomic Holdings. I do not see what future can there 
be for Agriculture on the basis of uneconomic holdings, and the 
further fragmentation of such holdings. The Commission has 
come to a unanimous finding that it is not possible to prevent 
subdivision of holdings either by an alteration in the laws of 
inheritance or a device like the system of the preferred heir and 
the Commission's view is supported by nearly all its witnesses. 
It is only to be noted that the evils of over-population are not 
the creation of Permanent Settlement, the abolition of which 
will not check it. 

A scheme of State-purchase by which the State enters into 
direct relations with the tillers of the soil may be supported only 
on the condition that it will assure to the tillers that their toil 
will not be applied in vain to uneconomic holdings inherently 
incapable of being cultivated to profit. This can only be done 
if the entire cultivated area of the Province is redistributed 
among the tillers of the soil so as to secure for each an 
economic holding, of say at least 5 acres, where the available 
land for cultivation per head of Bengal's agricultural popula- 
tion is only -87 acre, and per family only about 4;84 acres. 

Even if it is possible to apply the extreme socialistic principles 
to land as the national key-industry of Bengal by the State 
buying up all landed property so as to nationalise the entire 
agricultural industry of the Province, and then to follow up 
this complete nationalisation of land by redistributing it among 
the actual tillers of the soil, and settling each such cultivator 
on an economic holding of a standardised size, such a sweeping 
reform cannot materialise against the conditions already 
created in the Province by its over-population- This point may 
be gone into more closely with reference to the population 
figures and statistics recorded by the last Census. According 
to the Census of 1931, Bengal's total population amounts to a 
little over 500 lakhs which bids fair to increase up to 550 lakhs 
in the coming Census of 1941. It would appear that of this 
total population of 500 lakhs, only about 13'7 lakhs are 
registered as "principal earners", whose -"working 
dependants number about 7 lakhs. On the other hand, the 
"non-working dependants" who are supported by the principal 
earners number as many as 357 lakhs. This means that 71 per 
cent, of Bengal's total population do not earn their livelihood 
and may be taken to be unemployed. 



319 

Further, it would appear that the total agricultural popula- 
tion of Bengal including its working and non-working- 
dependants who pursue the vocation called "Ordinary 
cultivation" numbers 334 lakhs. The agricultural earners 
together with their working dependants number only about 92* 
lakhs who are distributed among the following classes: 

Lakhs. 

(1) Non-cultivating proprietors ... 6-3 

(2) Cultivating owners ... 50*8 

(3) Tenant-cultivators (including bargadars) 8-3 

(4) Agricultural labourers ... 287 

If the percentage of dependants to workers, or unemployed 
to employed, in the total population is taken for the agricul- 
tural population, then over 2 crores 25 lakhs will be returned 
as the dependants of agriculturists. 

At the same time, the gross cultivated area of the Province* 
amounts to 350 lakhs of acres and the net cultivated area to 
289 lakhs of acres. 

It is further calculated that the value of gross produce per 
net acre isjls. 50, while the gross produce per head of the total 
agricultural population dwindles only to Rs. 46. 

On the top of these distressing figures comes the climax 
that the available land which even our phenomenally fertile 
Province can offer to her agricultural population is the modest 
amount of -87 acre per head. 46 per cent, of its families hold 
less than 2 acres each, 11 per cent, less than 3 acres, 9 per cent, 
less than 4 acres, and 8 per cent, less than 5, or an economic 
holding. Thus three-fourths of Bengal's agricultural families 
are without economic holdings, their average size being only 
less than 3 acres.' 

The irresistible conclusion to which all these facts and 
figures lead, and from which there is no escape, is that no 
amount of land reform can in any way better the lot of the 
overgrown peasantry. As one of our talented witnesses, 
Mr. Atul Chandra Gupta, puts it, u no mere change of the land 
laws giving the raiyats better security to their rights in their 
tenancies or relieving them from the excessive burden of the 
present or enhanced rents would to any appreciable extent 
better their present hopelessly uneconomic condition. Far 
greater effort on the part of the Government and the nation 
than mere passing of such legislation is necessary to better the- 



320 

condition of the cultivators, which is, in one sense, bettering 
the economic condition of the whole country. I think that any 
attempt at short-cuts can only lead to futility and disillusion/' 

Want of Work for half the year. Next to Overpopulation 
which has reduced the peasantry of Bengal to desperate straits 
is another equally distressing factor which is neither the 
creation of the peasantry nor is within his control. Even the 
cultivator who has got work, and land to cultivate, has 
to remain out of work for more than six months in the year. 
There can be no future for a country where its able-bodied adult 
population remains workless for more than half the year. The 
primary agricultural reform must, therefore, solve this basic 
problem 01 agricultural idleness. This problem is not at all 
due to the land system of the Province. As Mr. W. H. 
Thompson, a Settlement Officer, and the Census Superintendent 
for 1921, puts it, "it is in such figures as these that the 
explanation of the poverty of the cultivator lies. The cultivator 
works fairly hard for a few days when he ploughs his land and 
puts down his crops, and again wlien he harvests them, but 
for the most of year he has little or nothing to do. 3 ' 

Difficulties of Industrialisation. The only solution of this 
colossal and desperate problem of agricultural idleness lies in 
introducing to rural areas such supplementary handicrafts and 
cottage industries as can be plied with profit by the cultivators 
remaining out of work in the off-seasons of agriculture. Tt is 
not feasible to transfer permanently or periodically the vast 
masses of workless agriculturists away from their homes, 
uprooting them from their villages to which they are bound by 
traditional ties, to remote urban areas of heavy industries. 
And even these heavy industries like Tea and Coal, Cotton and 
Cane, or Jute, are not overprosperous and can absorb only a 
small percentage of the proposed draft of agricultural labour. 

Extension of cultivation not possible. Nor is it possible to 
find a remedy to this desperate problem of the growing pressure 
of population on the progressively declining resources of the soil 
and the unavoidable unemployment of the agricultural 
population by bringing more land under cultivation. On this 
subject, the important evidence of one of our witnesses known 
for his experience of land revenue administration, Rai 
Bahadur M. N. Gupta, may be cited 

"There is little scope in this Province for provision by 
extension of cultivation in uncultivated areas. There may be 
some tracts in West Bengal and in North Bengal, which may 
be brought under cultivation by irrigation or embankment 



321 

arrangements; but generally, cultivation has extended in the 
villages to a dangerous limit, leaving little or no land for 
grazing cattle or even for a bhagarh where a carcass could be 
thrown; roads and pathways have been encroached upon. In 
some places, decadent river beds have been embanked, 
obstructing drainage, and bringing diseases in its trail and 
raising a different problem. There are reserved and protected 
forests; but they are serving a better purpose and their 
denudation is not free from the danger of many evil 
consequences. Colonisation in the Simdarbans is proceeding 
apace: and whether it should proceed faster is a question which 
may need particular investigation/' Cultivable waste forms 
only 8 per cent, of the total area of the Province. 

Cottage Industries as the only remedy. I agree with 
Mr. Thompson that "the only amelioration of present 
conditions in Bengal that seems possible is by bringing work 
within reach of the cultivator near his own village". 
Mr. Thompson points to the possibilities of handloom as a 
cottage industry, and in our own Report there is mention of 
the various handicrafts which may be profitably introduced in 
rural areas. The Royal Agricultural Commission has also 
mentioned some of these such as rice-hulling, oil-crushing, 
sugar-refineries, cotton-ginneries, manufacture of agricultural 
implements, paper manufacture, manufacture of oil-cakes, 
bone-crushing, pottery, rope-making, cane and grass products 
(as mats, baskets, etc.), sericulture, poultry-rearing and lac. 

Their past prosperity. It is sometimes held that the land 
system of the Province is responsible for the decay of its village 
industries and rural handicrafts. This is a complete misread- 
ing of history. India through the ages, as has been indicated 
in my separate Historical Note, had been noted for her balanced 
development of both industry and agriculture. Professor 
Weber nicely puts the position in the following words: 

"The skill of the Indians in the production of delicate woven 
fabrics, in the mixing of colours, the working of metals and 
precious stones, the preparation of essences and in all manner 
of technical arts, has from early times enjoyed a wo rid- wide 
celebrity." 

It is also stated in the Imperial Gazetteer of India: 'There 
was a very large consumption of Indian manufactures in Rome. 
This is confirmed by the elder Pliny, who complained that vast 
sums of money were annually absorbed by commerce with India. 
The muslins of Dacca were known to "the Greeks under the 
name of Gangetika. Thus it may be safely concluded that in 

22 



322 

India the arts of cotton spinning and cotton weaving were in a 
high state of proficiency two thousand years ago. Cotton 
weaving was only introduced into England in the seventeenth 
century." 

But Indian craftsmanship was not confined merely to 
textiles. As admitted by Professor H. H. Wilson: "The 
Hindus have the art of smelting fire, of welding it, and of 
making steel, and have had these arts from time immemorial." 
As has been pointed out by that renowned scholar, Ju$tiqe 
Ranade: "The iron industry not only supplied all local wants, 
but it also enabled India to export its finished products to 
foreign countries. The quality of the material turned out had 
also a world-wide fame. The famous Iron Pillar near Delhi, 
which is at least fifteen hundred years old, indicates an amount 
of skill in the manufacture of wrought iron, which has been the 
marvel of all who have endeavoured to account for it. Mr. Ball 
(late of the Geological Survey of India) admits that it is not 
many years since the production of such a pillar would have 
been an impossibility in the largest factories in the world, and, 
even now, there are comparatively very few factories where 
such a mass of metal could be turned out. Cannons were 
manufactured in Assam of the largest calibre, Indian wootz 
or steel furnished the materials out of which Damascus blades 
with a world-wide reputation were made; and it paid Persian 
merchants in those old times to travel all the way to India to 
obtain these materials and export them to Asia. The Indian 
steel found once considerable demand for cutlery even in 
England. This manufacture of steel and wrought iron had 
reached a high perfection at least two thousand years ago." 

These industrial conditions continued through later times. 
Bernier marvels over the incredible quantity of the 
manufactured goods of India in the Moghul times such as 
"embroideries, streaked silks, tufts of gold turbans, silver and 
gold cloth, brocades, net- work of gold". Tavernier also gives 
a long description of the manufactured goods, and dwells with 
wonder on the "marvellous peacock- throne, with the natural 
colours of the peacock's tail worked out in jewels , of carpets of 
silk and gold, satins with streaks of gold and silver, endless 
lists of exquisite works, of minute carvings, and other choice 
objects of art". 

How they were destroyed. It was this time-honoured trade 
and prosperity that lured traders from Europe to India. As 
the historian Murray puts it: "Indian fabrics, the most 
beautiful that human art has anywhere produced, were sought 



323 

by merchants at the expense of the greatest toils and dangers." 
("History of India", page 27.) The Indian trade was first 
captured by Venice and Genoa and later by the Portuguese 
and the Dutch. Their trade now attracted the envious 
attention of some English merchants who formed the East 
India Company and obtained a charter from Queen Elizabeth 
in 1600 to trade with the East Indies, "not to exchange as far 
as possible the manufactured goods of England for the products 
of India", but to carry the manufactures of India to Europe. 
The fate of this trade is thus described by the famous historian 
Lecky (in his "History of England' in the Eighteenth Century''): 
"At the end of the seventeenth century, great quantities of 
cheap and graceful Indian calicoes, muslins and chintzes, were 
imported into England, and they found such favour that the 
woollen and silk manufacturers were seriously alarmed. Acts 
of Parliament were accordingly passed in 1700 and 1721 
absolutely prohibiting, with a very few specified exceptions, 
the employment of printed or dyed calicoes in England, either 
in dress or in furniture, and the use of any printed or dyed 
goods, of which cotton formed any part." 

The same tale of India's industrial woes is told by other 
authorities. Sir Henry Cotton wrote in 1890 : "Less than a 
hundred years ago, the whole commerce of Dacca was 
estimated at one crore of rupees, and its population at 200,000 
souls. In 1787, the exports of Dacca muslin to England 
amounted to 30 lakhs of rupees; in 1817 they had ceased 
altogether. The arts of spinning and weaving' which, for 
ages, afforded employment to a numerous and industrial 
population, have now become extinct. Families which were 
formerly in a state of affluence have been driven to desert the 
towns and betake themselves to the villages for a livelihood. 
The present population of the town of Dacca is only 79,000. 
This decadence has occurred not in Dacca only, but in all 
districts. Not a year passes in which the Commissioners and 
District Officers do not bring to the notice of Government that 
the manufacturing classes in all parts of the country are 
becoming impoverished . ' ' 

Mr. Romesh Chandra Dutta also states : "In the first four 
years of the nineteenth century, in spite of all prohibitions and 
restrictive duties, six to fifteen thousand bales of cotton piece- 
goods were annually shipped from Calcutta to the United 
Kingdom. The figure rapidly fell down in 1813. The opening 
of trade to private merchants in that year caused a sudden 
rise in 1815; but the increase was temporary. After 1820, the 



324 

manufacture and export of cotton piece-goods declined steadily, 
never to rise again" ("Economic History of British India", 
page 296). 

The commencement of the Company 's administration 
brought out ia conflict between the industrial interests of 
England and India. British weavers became increasingly 
jealous of the Bengal weavers as they saw the silk fabrics 
which were imported to England from Bengal. And now, not 
only were Indian manufactures banned from entry into England 
but, as has been stated by Mr. Romesh Dutta, "a deliberate 
endeavour was now made to use the political power obtained 
by the East India Company to discourage the manufactures of 
India. In their letter to Bengal, dated 17th March 1769, the 
Company desired that the manufacture of raw silk should be 
encouraged in Bengal, and that of manufactured silk fabrics 
should be discouraged. And they also recommended that the 
silk winders should be forced to work in the Company's 
factories and prohibited from working in their own homes". 

In a letter of the Court of Directors, quoted in Appendix 
37 to the Ninth Report of the House of Commons Select 
Committee on the Administration of Justice in India, 1783, it 
was stated : 

"This regulation seems to have been productive of very good 
effects, particularly in bringing over the winders, who were 
formerly so employed, to work in the factories. Should this 
practice (the winders working in their own homes), through 
inattention, have been suffered to take place again, it will be 
proper to put a stop to it, which may now be more effectually 
done by an absolute prohibition under severe penalties, by the 
authority of the Government." 

"This tetter", as the Select Committee justly remarked, 
"contains a perfect plan of policy, both of compulsion and 
encouragement which must in a very considerable degree operate 
destructively to the manufactures of Bengal. Its effects must 
be (so far as it could operate without being eluded) to change 
the whole face of the industrial country, in order to render it 
a field for the produce of crude materials subservient to the 
manufactures of Great Britain." 

Further, according to Digby ("Prosperous British India 7 ', 
page 90), in 1813, the exports of Indian cotton manufactures 
were subjected to a variety of "burdensome charges which were 
subsequently removed, but only after the export trade in them 
had temporarily or permanently been destroyed" . At the same 



325 

time, English goods entered India without any or a merely 
nominal import duty. For instance, while Indian cotton goods 
had to pay a duty of 81 per cent, in England, English cotton 
goods could enter India by paying a duty of only 2^ per cent. 
About this time, Indian textile handicrafts had to contend 
with the facilities conferred on English manufactures by the 
invention of the steam engine and the power loom. The effects 
of this new factor are well described by a Director of the East 
India Company, Henry St. George Tucker, who wrote in 
1823 : 

"The silk manufactures (of India), and its piece-goods made 
of silk and cotton intermixed, have long since been excluded 
altogether from our markets; and, of late, partly in consequence 
of the operation of a duty of 67 per cent., but chiefly from the 
effect of superior machinery, the cotton fabrics which heretofore 
constituted the staple of India, have not only been displaced 
in this country, but we actually export our cotton manufactures 
to supply a part of the consumption of our Asiatic possessions. 
India is thus reduced from the state of a manufacturing to that 
of an agricultural country." 

H. H. Wilson, the historian, also wrote as follows: 

"It w&s stated in evidence (in 1813) that the cotton and 
silk goods of India up to the period could be sold for a profit 
in the British market at a price from 50 to 60 per cent, lower 
than those fabricated in England. It consequently became 
necessary to protect the latter by duties of 70 and 80 per cent, 
on their value, or by positive prohibition. Had this not been 
the case, had not such prohibitory duties and decrees existed, 
the mills of Paisley and Manchester would have stopped in 
their outset, and could scarcely have been again set in motion, 
even by the power of steam. They were created by the sacrifice 
of the Indian manufacture. Had India been independent, she 
would have retaliated, would have imposed prohibitive duties 
upon British goods, and would thus have preserved her own 
productive industry from annihilation. This act of self- 
defence was not permitted her; she was at the mercy of the 
'stranger. British goods were forced upon her without paying 
any duty, and the manufacturer employed the arm of political 
injustice to keep down and ultimately strangle a competitor 
with whom he could not have contended on equal terms." 

Difficulty of their revival. All this history shows how the 
indigenous Indian handicrafts which had acquitted themselves 
so well through centuries had at last to succumb to politics. 



326 

The destruction of these village handicrafts was not the conse- 
quence of the Permanent Settlement. Nor can they now be 
revived with ease. There is considerable loose and tall talk 
about their revival, but mere planning or scheming is very 
remote from realities. I particularly asked the best witness 
on the subject, Mr. S. C. Mitter, the Director of Industries, 
for a list of cottage industries and rural handicrafts which 
could be plied with profit by agriculturists in the off-seasons of 
agriculture, but he did not seem to be quite ready with such a 
list. In the meanwhile, some of us find in the abolition of the 
Permanent Settlement the promise of an industrial millennium. 
I for myself am unable to share their optimism! I do not 
know how long it would take for Dacca muslin to regain its 
lost glory, even aided by all-India Congress patronage and 
propagation of khadi. 

Thus the distresses of Bengal's peasantry are due to over- 
population, increase of population beyond the resources of the 
soil for supporting it, undersized holdings, want of work for 
the agriculturists for more than half the year, and decline of 
the indigenous village handicrafts which could employ 
cultivators out of work in the off-seasons of agriculture. All 
these factors have nothing to do with the land system of the 
Province. They are operative even where land is held 
rent-free. 

Effect of low prices. The agriculturist is further handi- 
capped by a factor for which neither he nor the land system is 
responsible. It is due to agricultural prices having gone down 
more in proportion than the prices of the other commodities 
which the agriculturist is to buy as the necessaries of life with 
the price of what he grows in his fields. The question of 
agricultural prices is practically now an international question. 
It is also a question of currency. If it is possible to give fair 
wages to Industry, it should be possible to give' fair "prices" to 
Agriculture. Some remedies may be explored such as 
(a) payment of rent in kind or cash according to the cultivator's . 
convenience, (6) marketing of agricultural produce by private, 
co-operative or State organisation. Recently in Canada, the 
'Government bought up the entire wheat stock of the country 

at a loss to save its peasantry. But after four years' waiting, 

the State effected a profitable deal. 

Need of agricultural improvements. It is also admitted on 
all hands that agriculture in Bengal is badly in need of certain 
immediate improvements by which the resources of the soil may 
be fully exploited. Such improvements will mainly comprise 



327 

(a) supply of seeds, (6) profitable rotation of crops so 
as to give employment to the agriculturist throughout the year, 

(c) supply of scientific manures suitable for different crops, 

(d) prevention of cattle epidemics and (e) facilities of 
irrigation. Our Report has already mentioned these, but I 
would make only a few supplementary observations, in view 
of the importance of the subject. 

Low yield of rice. It is to be noted that the yield of rice 
in India and in Bengal is the lowest in the world. The yield 
per acre is highest in Spain producing 5,542 Ib. of rice per acre. 
Next come Italy with 4,743 Ib., Egypt with 3,719 Ib., and 
Japan 2,988 Ib. India as a whole has a yield of only 828 Ib. 
and Bengal 884 Ib. 

Need of improved seeds. It is undeniable that the quality 
of the seed is the most important factor in determining the 
yield of the crop. Improved seeds will not only increase the 
quantity of the crop but also its quality. At present, the 
cultivators use their own seeds preserved for the purpose or 
obtain them from the village mahajans on loan on which they 
charge interest at a rate hardly less than 50 per cent, on the 
amount borrowed. These seeds are always impure, and even 
if they w^re originally pure, they soon get mixed up and 
deteriorate in course of a few years. Thus local seeds yield a 
poor crop both in quantity and quality. It is, therefore, 
urgently necessary that there should be provision for the supply 
of seeds of the best quality to the paddy-growers. 

The Agricultural Department has already some valuable 
work to its credit in evolving improved strains of pedigreed 
seeds. But more work is called for in the establishment of 
"pure lines". In view of the enormous varieties of paddy 
grown in Bengal, a more effective isolation of "pure lines" is 
very necessary by the establishment of sub-sections representing 
areas which are homogeneous in point of soil and climatic 
conditions. Without such isolation, all investigations will be 
barren of results. 

. Again, for facilities of access of growers to seeds, there 
should be established a comprehensive seed-supply service with 
adequate staff and organisation to meet the seed-requirements 
of Bengal's 20 million acres of paddy Hand. The present 
number of only 450 seed farms attached to the Union Boards 
touches only the fringe of the problem. It is high time that 
the fruits of distant departmental researches be brought to the 
door of the peasant in the field. 



328 

Manures. The problem of manures is a more difficult 
problem. The peasants do not believe in manures and do not 
find them paying. Propaganda and demonstration are 
necessary to make them use manures. Even the manure he has 
at hand, the dropping of cattle, he does not know how to 
conserve. The Royal Commission on Agriculture urges the 
instruction of the peasant in the preservation of available 
manure and preparation of cheap manures from leaves and 
farm-yard sweepings (see Paddy Committee's Report just 
published). 

Irrigation facilities. Cultivation in Bengal is severely 
handicapped by lack of irrigation facilities. The proportion 
of the area irrigated to the total area sown is only 7 per cent, 
in Bengal, as against 54 in Punjab, 30 in United Provinces, 
28 in Madras, 21 in Bihar and Orissa, and 16 in Bombay. It 
may also be noted that adequate drainage facilities are also 
needed to remedy extensive water-logging all over the Province 
caused by rain and flood. 

Agricultural improvement is nobody's business now. The 

chief defect of the existing land system is its indifference to 
agricultural improvements. The improvement of land is not 
the concern of any of the landed classes. Everybody's business 
is nobody's business. The zamindar says that he is no longer 
responsible for improvement of land when the 1'aw has 
destroyed the incentives to such improvements. He feels that 
he is out of the picture and has no longer any interest in the 
land except passively to receive its rent. This reply will be 
repeated by all the landholders making up the whole chain of 
subinfeudation. The State is unable to fix the responsibility 
for land on any particular link in the chain down to the under- 
raiyat or the actual tiller of the soil. And yet the State cannot 
remain indifferent to what constitutes the Very foundation, 
the primary source, of the nation's wealth. It cannot stand by 
and see the land of the country going to rack and ruin for want 
of proper care on the part of those who are drawing out of it 
all that it can yield without replenishing its decreasing 
resources and declining potentialities. The State has i a 
supreme duty towards the land of the country. In some 
countries, Land is not trusted to individual proprietorship and 
is nationalised like some of the free gifts of Nature such as 
hydro-electric sources, machinery of transport, mines, etc. But 
these countries can write on a clean slate. It is not possible 
in Bengal. At the same time, the State has a responsibility 
for l&nd which it cannot ignore. The State cannot drift in the 



329 

matter 'any longer. The primary fact is that neither the 
zamindar nor the tenant, neither the raiyat nor the under- 
raiyat, holds himself responsible for agricultural improvements 
by which the properties of the soil, instead of being exhausted, 
will be replenished and improved so as to show a better rate of 
yield as compared with other countries. The various ways 
and means of effective agricultural improvements are well 
known. The question is, what /arrangement or provision can 
be made by the State by which a machinery for agricultural 
improvement can be set up to function daily and visibly like 
its Executive or Judicial Department which always makes its 
presence and its work felt every day in the whole country. 

Proposal for an Agricultural Cess. The best proposal, 
taking into account all the factors historical, economic, social, 
legal, and political, will be to levy an agricultural cess on every 
zamindari estate on condition (i) that it will be levied only on 
the basis of actual realisation for the year amounting to at least 
95 per cent, of current demand (as is the standard of realisa- 
tion attained in other Provinces); and (ii) that its proceeds 
which will be collected from the estate will be administered 
for the agricultural improvement of the locality. The details 
of the scheme will have to be worked out by administrative 
experts. TThe general idea is: 

(a) to make it experimental for ten years, to make a survey 

of the agricultural needs of the whole province, and 
apportion expenditure accordingly among different 
local areas; 

(b) to confine the agricultural cess only to the rent- 

receiving class and to exempt the cultivators at 
present from this burden; 

(c) that the tate of the cess should be one-and-half annas in 

the rupee so as to yield ian extra revenue of one 
crore of rupees to be available to Government for 
effecting agricultural improvement as an organic 
part of administration. 

Agricultural Income-tax. The agricultural cess is 
preferable on many grounds to agricultural income-tax, which 
will not be productive of as much revenue and will not be 
popular for the inequalities of financial burden it will involve. 

There is another point mentioned by Sir Nalini Ranjan 
Chatter ji against the agricultural income-tax. "It appears 
the owners of land had to pay, cesses, while all other 



330 

sections of the public had to pay income-tax. That being so, 
if land is made liable to income-tax, there will be burden (a) of 
revenue under the Permanent Settlement, (&) of road and 
public works cesses, and (c) of income-tax, which does not 
seem to be justifiable, unless other sections of the public &re 
also made liable with cesses/' 

And if the Permanent Settlement is abolished, and the 
income-tax is levied on cultivators, "the elaborate enquiry 
which would be necessary every year", as Mr. Atul Chandra 
Gupta points out, u to find out the assessabte income of each 
agriculturist, the majority of whom are illiterate and incapable 
of filing a proper Return, would make the whole scheme 
impracticable and oppressive, if sought to be introduced in 
the present state of the country ". 

Bargadar. As to the bargadar, I have to make a few 
observations. There is some confusion of thought on the 
subject. There are cases where a person employs another to 
cultivate his land in return for a share of the produce. He does 
not contribute any capital in the shape of seeds, bullocks, or 
implements to cultivation. But he receives a share of the crops 
simply as the owner of the land or as landlord. Though this 
system is called barga, it is really subletting on rent paid in 
kind. In this case, the bargadar is in reality a tfenant and 
should be given the rights of a tenant, such as right of 
occupancy and other rights. In my opinion, the barga system 
proper, where the conception of tenancy does not apply, is the 
system under which the owner of land contributes to 
cultivation by other means than the mere supply of land. He 
may contribute seeds, bullocks, plough, or other things, in 
whole or in part, and call in the aid of the cultivator ' in 
production. This is thus in reality a form of partnership 
between the owner of the land and the so-cal|ed bargadar for 
agricultural production. The respective rights of the parties 
should be regulated by the Law of Partnership. Such a system 
of agricultural partnership has its uses, because it makes- 
agriculture the joint concern of a man of means and education 
and the uneducated and poor peasant. Agriculture will be 
doomed if it becomes the sole concern of the tillers of the soil 
in their present state of incompetence due to their illiteracy, 
want of scientific education, poverty, and want of capital. The 
barga system makes for scientific agriculture, is justifiable on 
economic principles, and should not be abolished. The other 
barga system which is really a tenancy should go and be 
recognised as a tenancy. At present, the same term barga 
is applied to two different systems. The distinction between 



331 

the two should be recognised and appropriate legislation nassed 
for regulating the two different kinds of relations on which they 
rest. In the case of the barga system as a partnership, the 
profits of cultivation are to be divided according to the kind of 
partnership entered into, and its agreed terms and conditions. 

State-purchase. I now come to the vital point of the 
Report, the scheme of State-purchase, and abolition of 
Permanent Settlement. My position is that I am game for it, 
provided it materially improves the admittedly hard condition 
of the toiling tillers of the soil. But I have my doubts about 
it. As a Congress member of the Legislature, I have to 
consider the opinion of the Congress as it has been actually 
embodied in the different measures of land legislation already 
passed by the Congress Governments in Provinces having to 
deal with Permanent Settlement, the Governments of the United 
Provinces, Bihar, and Madras. In none of these Provinces has 
there been any proposal for the abolition of Permanent 
Settlement. In the United Provinces, where only a ten per 
cent, of the Province is under Permanent Settlement, and where 
it is easy of abolition, the proposal for its abolition has not even 
been mooted. The Bihar Government has confined its land 
legislation only to the agricultural income-tax. 

1 All these Governments have been at one and busy in passing 
to the tenants some of the rights which have been already passed 
to them in Bengal in full measure. They have contented 
themselves with an improvement of the condition of the 
peasantry by an improvement of their legal status within the 
frame-work of the existing land system. In Bengal, however, 
the difficulties in the way of a radical reform like the abolition 
of Permanent Settlement and its replacement by State- 
landlordism are more formidable, because it would amount to a 
revolution in the social and economic system and structure of 
the Province, which have taken root and grown during the Inst 
150 years since the Permanent Settlement, and even from earlier 
times. Our Report states the "pros and cons of the case. 
Opinions have differed as to the degree of emphasis to be laid on 
them. I am here only making a few supplementary 
observations. 

Is it possible to prevent Subletting. If the ideal is to set 
up a system by which the State will deal directly with the actual 
cultivators of the soil without the intervention of any 
intermediaries, the inherent difficulty of the situation is that the 
system cannot assure that the cultivators will always themselves 
cultivate. I agree with some of our experienced witnesses like 



332 

Mr. F. W. Robertson, C.I.E., i.c.s., that it is impossible to 
abolish subletting in agriculture. Besides, the term 
"cultivator" is tak^n to include the cultivator who cultivates 
with the help of hired labourer. He may so arrange that the 
hired labourer may be construed as a bargadar receiving his 
wages in kind in the shape of a portion of the produce, food, 
clothing, or other ways. Thus the situation that will result 
from the abolition of the present system is that one class of rent- 
receivers will be replaced by another posing as cultivators under 
a subterfuge. As Mr. Robertson stated further in his 
examination, "there is little distinction between a raiyat who 
cultivates through bargadars and one whcr sublets on cash 
rent". And again: "If the middlemen are eliminated, it does 
not follow that all the raiyats will cultivate. Even now a' 
proportion of them do not cultivate." Mr. W. H. Nelson, 
c.s.i., i.c.s., also gave evidence to the same effect: "No 
legislation can defeat an economic law. If a man can make 
profit by subletting he will certainly do so. Even if the law 
forbids it, he will find a way of evading the law. Occupancy 
rights have nothing to do with the tilling of the soil. 
Originally they were given to protect the raiyat who was 
presumed to be the tiller of the soil, but tenure-holders also have 
occupancy rights." Again: "If the zamindars and tenure- 
holders are bought out, they will either spend th$ money or 
invest it. If they invest, they will naturally invest in land. 
That means that they would become owners of raiyati land. 
The result would be that many middle-class people would 
become raiyats under Government, and the actual cultivators 
would be those who hold under them. If the whole Province 
became a Khas Mahal, the occupancy raiyat would become 
landlords and would be forced to sublet to under-tenants. 
Nothing would prevent subletting and if occupancy rights were 
given to all under-raiyats, the result would be the existing 
system on a lower grade. It is also impossible to limit the size 
of raiyati holdings." Sir Nalini Ranjan Chatter ji also points 
out in his valuable evidence: "The abolition of the zamindari 
system means of course not only abolition of zamindars, but 
of the whole body of tenure-holders, under- tenure-holders, and 
(if by "actual cultivator" is meant only persons who cultivate 
lands with their own hands) the whole body of cultivators who 
cultivate with hired labourers, paying them a share of the 
produce as their remuneration," 

Sir Nalini Ranjan further explains the position thus: 
"What exactly is meant by the expression 'actual cultivator ' 
of the soil ? Does it mean only the person who actually ploughs 
with his own hands (or with the aid of the members of his 



333 

family) or includes also persons who do not themselves plough 
with their own hands, but carry on cultivation through 
agricultural labourers ? 

"Leaving aside the case of the actual tiller of the soil who 
himself ploughs his land, cultivation is carried by a numerous 
body of persons, who provide the cattle, seeds, manure, plough 
and other implements of husbandry, in fact everything, but 
engage agricultural labourers, to actually plough the land.'' 
These agricultural labourers either work as whole-time servants 
on fixed pay (called Mahinder in Western Bengal) or are paid 
by a share of the produce, and called Krishans. "They have 
nothing to do with cattle, plough, implements of husbandry, 
manure or seeds, or anything whatsoever. They merely supply 
the labour. All the middle class of Bengal who carry on 
cultivation with their own plough, etc., do so with the aid of 
hired labourers, as described above. The Brahmins as a class 
are prohibited by their religion from ploughing lands with their 
own hands; and all the bhadralogs carry on cultivation in the 
above manner. 

4 'But it is not merely the Brahmins or other 'bhadralogs' 
who carry on cultivation in the above manner. The actual 
tiller of the soil has to do the same, where he cannot plough all 
his lands, himself. A tiller cannot properly cultivate more 
than 5 acres of land, which is sufficient for one plough, with 
his own hands. If he has got more than 5 acres of land, he 
must take help of hired labourers as described above to 
cultivate the rest of the land, unless he has got other adult 
male members capable of cultivating land. In case where he 
has a large quantity of land or land more than sufficient for a 
plough (and he has no other additional male member of his 
family capable of carrying on cultivation), he is in the same 
position as the Brahmin or other 'bhadralog' cultivator." 

Sir Nalini Ranjan also thinks that between an agricultural 
labourer engaged on pay, and the other engaged on the basis 
of a share of the produce, the latter is preferable. The 
former "has no incentive to work for larger produce, because, 
whether the produce is small or large, he gets only his wages; 
whereas he who is paid by a share of the crop has an incentive 
to work, because he will get one-third of any increase in the 
produce. The mode of remunerating agricultural labourers 
by giving them a share of the produce has been prevalent in 
Bengal from ancient times and there is no doubt that it results 
in increase of production ". 



334 

"Brahmins owing to religious prohibition, and other 
'bhadralogs' in this country on social grounds, cannot plough 
with their own hands, and it is expensive to keep plough and 
cattle, etc., for cultivating a small quantity of land. There 
are minors or widows who cannot carry on cultivation. Then 
again, there are religious and charitable institutions and 
cultivation of lands which support them must necessarily be 
carried on through others. All these persons depend upon the 
produce of the land for their subsistence, and they have been 
maintaining themselves from the produce of land from 
generation to generation. 

"There are some people who look upon the 'bhadralogs' as 
drones and idlers, but these 'drones' have built up the social 
structure in rural Bengal and have always lived upon the 
pioduce of land in this country. Many of them are holding 
lands from before the Permanent Settlement as raiyats or 
lakharajdars for generations, and getting the lands cultivated 
through Mahinders and Krishans, or Bhagchasis where it is not 
convenient for them to keep cattle and plough. One should 
not forget that Bengal is not Europe, that the habits and 
customs of the people are quite different from those of Europe, 
and that many people in this country cannot cultivate them- 
selves on social or religious grounds. They cannot for the 
same reasons work as millhands in factories and mills. But 
they have to live and the mode in which cultivation is carried 
on is the result of the economic and social adjustment of ages. 
As stated above, the middle class people are living in the 
villages and supporting themselves from the produce in these 
ways from time immemorial, and one should not forget that 
the effect of driving away these people from villages would be 
to swell the number of unemployed in towns." 

1 have sometimes felt that the Commission as a body has 
not given due consideration to much valuable evidence 
tendered to it on invitation by important Associations' witnesses 
like Sir Nalini Ran j an Chatter jee who acted as the Chief Justice 
of Bengal, and others. 

Need of Middle Class Educated Agriculturists And 

supposing that State-landlordism is set up with the tiller of 
the soil figuring alone in the picture, it will mean the abandon- 
ment of Agriculture to those who are the least fitted for carrying 
it on in accordance with up-to-date scientific methods widen 
alone can make it a paying concern. The organisers of 
Agriculture as a scientific industry are not less important to it 



335 

than the actual agriculturists or tillers of the soil. Rent- 
receiving is not always a crime unless it is rack-renting. The 
middle classes have become rent- receivers in their zeal to 
exchange the plough for the pen, and have built themselves up 
on the basis of education financed by their income from their 
tenures or fields in the shape of rents. 

Opinion of Sir John Russell. In this connection, the most 
authoritative view of Sir John Russell, D.SC., F.R.S., may be 
quoted from his Report on the work of the Imperial Council of 
Agricultural Research (in applying Science to Crop Production 
in India): "Perhaps the most serious of all the difficulties 
confronting Indian agriculture is the lack of an agricultural 
aristocracy and of an educated agricultural middle class. Many 
of the great advances in western agriculture are due to men of 
this type: highly competent agriculturists, rooted in the soil, 
with a thorough knowledge of crops and livestock and a shrewd 
idea of how to get the most out of their land. It is quite 
certain that without them the West would have been in a far 
poorer position than it now holds. In Great Britain an 
improvement effected in the experiment stations can be at once 
put out into practice: some large farmer is prepared to try 
it at his own expense as soon as he is satisfied as to its value, 
and he almost invariably finds some simpler or better way of 
using it. * But these good farmers also themselves devise 
improvements, which are sometimes better than those of the 
experiment stations. Indeed the experiment stations think 
themselves fortunate if they can obtain yields as good as those 
of the best farmers, and their best hopes of success are to 
overcome some special difficulty or to develop alternative 
methods of achieving some desired end. The staffs of the 
experiment stations are compelled to keep in touch with 
practical men or they would find themselves outclassed in the 
struggle for ;gru l ulMir,-il improvement." 



< (r 



The existence of these educated classes gives a social 
attractiveness to life in the country/' 

" Equally important is the need for increasing the number 
of educated farmers. It is unfortunate that the colleges have 
been able to do so little in this direction. Perhaps the greatest 
difference between the agricultural colleges in India and those 
of the West is that most of the western students go back to the 
land to do practical farming while the Indian agricultural 
graduates seek some non-practical post, where their influence 
on practical farming is very small. An old Hindu proverb 



336 

states that Agriculture is the best life and service the worst: 
the modern tendency is to reverse this and to rank Government 
Service as the best life and Agriculture as the worst. This 
explains the relatively small effects exerted by the Indian 
colleges on the cultivator's practice. Until good students from 
the agricultural colleges settle on the land as farmers, the 
colleges cannot be expected to exert much influence on village 
life. At each centre I visited, I enquired how many college 
students were farming: occasionally figures were given to me 
and 1 enquired for names and addresses so that I might write 
for information, but my letters were mostly either returned or 
unanswered, and in all my journeys I met only two or three 
college trained farmers Per contra, the few young zamindars 
whom I found taking pains with their farming had in general 
not been to an agricultural college. " 

Destruction of the Middle class. Indeed, State-landlordism 
in Bengal will have to base itself upon the destruction of the 
middle classes who have so long thriven on land. One of the 
objectives of the Permanent Settlement was frankly stated to 
be the creation of this middle class, and its abolition 
will necessarily mean its extinction. To quote the words of 
Lord Cornwallis (already cited in my Historical Note) : 
< 'Permanent Settlement would give a real value to landed 
property and at the same time contribute directly to 
accumulation of wealth in individuals and thus to general 
prosperity/' This point of view was first urged by Philip 
Francis who admittedly ranks as one of the originators of the 
scheme of Permanent Settlement. State-landlordism in his 
opinion "supposes the extinction of those successive ranks of 
subordination in society through which the operations of 
Government descend by regular and easy gradations from the 
summit to the base. When the simple and natural channels of 
authority are quitted or decomposed, the Sta.te itself loses that 
shape and proportion which constitute its strength and qualify 
it for duration." Here Francis mentions subinfeudation as a 
consequence of Permanent Settlement, and of the zamindari 
system, but not as necessarily an absolute evil. He only fears 
that by State-landlordism, Society in Bengal would once more 
be resolved into the original units or atoms out of which it was 
formed. The same view was expressed by Samuel Lang, 
Finance Member under Lord Canning, in 1857: "We do not 
exist as a Government merely to get the largest revenue we can 
out of the country, or even to keep the mass of the people in a 
state of uniform dead level, though it should be tolerably a 



337 

happy and contented one, as a peasant tenantry under 
a paternal Government. If we give a Permanent Settlement, 
we lay the foundation for a state of society, not perhaps so 
easily managed but far more varied and richer in elements of 
civilisation and progress. We shall have gradations of society, 
from the native nobleman of large territorial possessions down 
through the country gentleman of landed estate to the 
independent yeoman, the small peasant proprietor, the large 
tenant with skill and capital on a long lease, the small tenant 
on a lease, the ten ant-at- will, and the day labourer." 

Subinfeudation cannot be considered as an evil if it operates 
as an agency for the distribution of wealth derived from land 
among the different ranks and classes of society, and does not 
leave land as the monopoly of the few, but leaves it open to 
the many as the source of general prosperity. It is an evil and 
cannot be justified if the weight of its chain is increasingly felt 
in its downward course along its descending series of links, 
so as to throw the brunt of its weight on the lowest and the 
weakest link that is least able to bear it. 

We have, however, found that the burden of rents is evenly 
distributed among the various classes concerned in the scheme 
of subinfeudation so as to leave the occupancy raiyat at the 
bottom oL the structure with a reasonably low level of rent 
which givesTiim further scope for profit by subletting on terms 
of rack-renting. There is no rack-renting at any of the higher 
stages in the structure of subinfeudation that has arisen out of 
Permanent Settlement. As Sir Nalini Ran j an Chatter ji in his 
evidence points out, "The evil of subinfeudation is due to the 
creation of under-raiyats by the raiyats themselves at a rack- 
rent in cash, encouraged by tenancy legislation." 

Extent of its extermination. We shall now examine the 
extent of extermination of Bengal's middle classes to result 
from the abolition of the Permanent Settlement. According 
to the Census Report, non-cultivating proprietors of land who 
receive rent in cash or kind number 7 lakhs 83 thousand. 
Each of these has to support a large number of working and 
non-working dependants, ranging from five to fifty in 
accordance with the size of his income. Considering that there 
are more than 1 lakh revenue-paying estates and 27 lakhs of 
tenures, the number of rent-receivers the zamindars, tenure- 
holders, and the rent-receiving raiyats, together with their 
dependants, may be estimated at more than 1 crore 50 lakhs 
of people, or a third of "Bengal's total population. It 

23 



338 

is interesting to note that the Government of Sir Stanley 
Jackson made a rough calculation as to the possible number of 
the rent-receiving classes of Bengal whom the Report proposes 
to abolish. It was pointed out that "out of the then 4,783,565 
rent-paying cess- tenures, about 32 lakhs were tenure-hjolders in 
the sense of the then Bengal Tenancy Act, i.e., the proprietary 
landholders and the Bengal tenancy tenure-holders". It was 
also considered that "each land-holding was owned by five co- 
sharers on an average, and that the number of persons owning 
more than one landholding unit was rather rare". On this 
basis, the land-holders, large or small, would number more 
than 1 crore 50 lakhs. It is to be remembered that the 
Government then calculated on the basis of the franchise 
qualification of land-holders for election to the Central 
Legislative Assembly that there were then "not more than 707 
landlords in Bengal with a minimum income of not more than 
Rs. 8 to 10 thousand a year". I for one am not so 
much concerned with the fate of this microscopic minority 
comprising the big landlords of the Province. I am 
more concerned with the fate of a crore and 50 thousand of 
population comprising the middle classes of Bengal who would 
be rendered landless and deprived of the ways of earning their 
livelihood to which they have been accustomed so long by a 
scheme of State-purchase which seeks to pension tfeem off on 
a modest pittance far below the incomes they were earning. 
The serious consequences that would result from this 
revolutionary proposal were also envisaged by the Joint 
Parliamentary Committee who observed: "The alteration of 
the character of the land revenue settlement in Bengal, for 
instance, would involve directly or indirectly the interests of 
vast numbers of the population, in addition to those of the 
comparatively small number of zamindars proper and might 
indeed produce an economic revolution of a most far-reaching 
character." 

The whole case is very forcibly put by Sir Nalini Ran j an 
Chatter ji in his Evidence: 

"The zamindari system is the pivot round which rural 
Bengal turns, and the State-purchase of zamindaris and 
tenures will effect a collapse in its social and economic 
structure. The educational, charitable and religious institu- 
tions maintained by big zamindars are not likely to be 
maintained by them. The number of big zamindars and 
tenure-holders is small, as would appear from the number of 
electors in the Land-holders 5 Constituencies in the Bengal 



339 

Legislative Assembly. There is, however, a very large class 
of small zamindars, and tenure-holders who form the middle 
class." 

"One of the social results of Subinfeudation has been 
the impetus to the increase of a middle class in a 
country possessing little or no manufacturing industry. 
At one time the growth of intermediate tenure-holders was 
thought desirable. In a Despatch (No. 14 of 9th July 1862), 
the Secretary of State stated that 'it is most desirable that 
facilities should be given for the gradual growth of a middle 
class connected with the land, without dispossessing the 
peasant proprietors and occupiers. It is believed that among 
the latter may be found many men of great intelligence, public 
spirit, and social influence, although individually in compara- 
tive poverty. To give to the intelligent, the thrifty, .and the 
enterprising, the means of improving their condition by opening 
to them the opportunity of exercising these qualities, can be 
best accomplished by limiting the public demand on their 
lands'." 

"The proprietors, the tenure-holders, and other middle 
class people who stand between the zamindars and the 
cultivators have built up the social and economic structure of 
Bengal. It is they who have by their intelligence and 
fesources-taken the initiative in all social and economic matters 
'in rural Bengal, and the cultivators have followed them, when 
the former have been able to induce the latter to do so." 

"About 80 per cent, of the people of Bengal live in villages." 

"The question of unemployment among the middle classes 
has become very acute, and while people are advised to 'go 
back to land, 5 it would be disastrous to the social and economic 
structure of rural Bengal to do anything which would have 
the effect of driving the middle class people to towns to swell 
the number of .the unemployed, leaving the villages in the 
hands of only the tillers of the soil." 

Its possible consequences to Revenue. The destruction of 
the middle classes of Bengal as the necessary result of the 
scheme of State-purchase recommended in the Eeport will have 
bther consequences to the financial position of the Province/ 
In a note of Government on the financial position of Bengal 
and the Permanent Settlement, it is pointed out how "as a 
result of Permanent Settlement, Bengal, although not an 
industrial area like Bombay, still affords such a good market 
for merchandise and yields a high income in income-tax and 
customs". This is no doubt due to the growth of the middle 



340 

classes for which Bengal is noted and the high level of 
purchasing power attained by the Province as a whole. The 
sale of imported goods is much greater in Bengal than in most 
other provinces, together with the consumption of cotton 
manufactures, machinery, tobacco, articles of food and drink, 
cutlery, hardware, etc. For instance, in the year 1925-26, 
Bengal contributed more than 26 crores to the Central 
Government under various heads such as Income-tax, Customs, 
Salt, and Opium Excise, whereas Madras, with a population 
nearly the same as Bengal's, contributed 6 crores, and United 
Provinces just over a crore. Bengal's contribution to the 
Income-tax Receipts for the whole of India is the highest, 
amounting to over 6 crores of rupees or 36 per cent, of the 
total. A Note prepared by the Government of Sir John 
Anderson states: tc lt is true that a portion of the income on 
which the tax was levied was attributed to business in inland 
provinces. But even with a fair weightage the share of Bengal 
in Income-tax Receipts must have been very great as compared 
with that of the other Provinces. Moreover, the tax represents 
practically the whole benefit of the revenues derived from 
provincial industries. " Indeed, the inelasticity of land 
revenue in Bengal has imparted elasticity to other sources of 
revenue. 

As regards the revenue from Stamps, the following,. statement 
may be quoted from a Note of the Government of Sir Stanley 
Jackson (prepared by Sir P. C. Mitter, as the Member in charge 
of the subject): "If we examine the judicial statistics of the 
Province, we find that as much as 51 per cent, of the total civil 
litigation consist of rent suits; about 39 per cent, consist of 
money suits which in a large number of cases are based on 
kistibandies (instalment bonds) and are really deferred rent 
suits. Landlords are responsible for much of this stamp 
duty." No doubt, half of this revenue from Stamps is 
contributed by Calcutta, but these contributors are mostly the 
prosperous classes who have settled down as citizens of Calcutta 
under its many attractions but maintain close contact with the 
countryside, and their rural homes. Some of the revenue 
from Stamps is no doubt derived from litigation, a tainted 
source, which the State should not exploit. But much of this 
litigation is due to tenancy legislation, as pointed out by no 
less an authority than a Chief Justice of the Calcutta High 
Court of the eminence of Sir Barnes Peacock in connection 
with the case of Hills vs. Iswar Ghose: "We think we may 
fairly point to this case as an example of the difficulties which 
have been created by some of the provisions of Act X of 1859, 



341 

and of the vast amount of litigation, harassing to both the 
landowners and raiyats, which must necessarily arise, unless 
that Act be amended. 3 ' 

Other difficulties. The Calcutta High Court Bar 
Association in its evidence envisages other difficulties of State- 
landlordism to the primordial units, the tillers of the soil. It 
states: 'They are so illiterate, poor, and unorganised that 
direct settlement with the State, which could only be worked by 
innumerable petty Government officers, would lead to acts 
of oppression against which the cultivators would be more 
helpless than at present in their dealing with the officers of 
the zamindars." 

Refund of public charities made under Permanent Settle- 
ment. There is also a moral aspect of the matter on which a 
good deal of evidence has been tendered to the Commission on 
behalf of zamindars by Associations like the Jessore 
Landholders' Association, Midnapore District Landholders' 
Association, and the British India Association, who have 
submitted a vast volume of facts and figures to show what part 
has been taken in the advancement of the cultural interests of 
the Province by their benefactions in aid of schools, colleges, 
hospitals, -alms-houses, temples and the like. On this subject, 
the evidence of an experienced administrator like Mr. A. E. 
Porter, i.c.s. (who was also the Census Superintendent for 
1931) may be cited: "It has to be considered that the zamindars 
have made large contributions to charity. They have provided 
a great part of the money spent on education and on medical 
facilities in towns and in the country, they contribute liberally 
to. appeals for charitable purposes, and they have spent large 
sums in religious endowments. If (in a scheme of State- 
purchase) Goverpment deducted from the sums on which the 
calculation of compensation was based all amounts expended on 
furthering the common good, it would be morally bound to 
expend (as it presumably would) any additional revenue 
obtained on schemes of public utility, and would be justified 
in expropriation only if it were able to establish that its use 
of the surplus revenue which it would obtain would be more 
effective for the common good than the use hitherto made of it 
by the landlords." 

The public benefactions to which the landlords have 
committed themselves raise another delicate question. These 
charities were ungrudgingly made by them under a system built 
up by the Permanent Settlement. If their donors are now 



342 

bought up and pensioned off as annuitants, will their charities 
be also refunded by the State? To cite some instances of 
phenomenal philanthrophy within my personal knowledge, the 
benefactions by which the Kasimbazar House has impoverished 
itself for the sake of the good of the country under Maharani 
Savarnamayi, and her illustrious successor, Maharaja Sir 
Manindra Chandra Nandy, of hallowed memory, in all fairness, 
should be refunded to it, when the system and all that it meant 
in financial security are to be abolished, while the State should 
also carry on the burden of these benefactions by maintaining 
institutions like the Krishnanath College and School, the 
magnificent hospital founded by the extensive charities of 
Lalgola Raj under Maharaja Rao Sir Jogendra Narain Ray, 
or the Berhampore Waterworks. The State is also ethically 
bound to refund the large charities made by the Rajas of 
Dighapatia, Dubalhati, and other landlords towards the 
establishment of the Rajshahi College and other institutions, 
in good faith in the Permanent Settlement. The records of all 
the districts are full of such charities to which they owe so 
much for their material and moral progress. A proper 
valuation and account of these charities is called for, so that 
the State may see the extent of its liability on that account 
by way of refunding, and continuing, those charitieg, when it 
buys up the donors on terms which will impoverish them by 
reducing their time-honoured incomes on which they had built- 
in the faith that those incomes were guaranteed to them in 
perpetuity. Two of our own colleagues, the Maharajadhiraja 
Bahadur of Burdwan, and Mr. Brajendra Kishore Roy 
Chowdhury of Gouripur (Mymensingh) , have made their names 
household words in the country by their unexampled charities 
in aid of all possible works of public utility, and institutions 
of learning, culture, and religion. The point that is raised 
here on these charities is that they were made* by the donors in 
good faith, and with a long view of possibilities assured to them 
by the Permanent Settlement. At Uttarpara, the house of 
Joykissen Mukerji is noted for its large-hearted liberality which 
has been continued by his son, the late Raja Peary Mohon and 
his grandson, Kumar Bhupendra Nath Mukerji. Quite 
recently, the Hon'ble the Chief Minister, Mr. A. K. Fazlul II uq, 
in replying to an Address presented to him by the Uttarpara 
College, made a fine acknowledgment of the public-spirited 
philanthropy of this family of zamindars: 'The benevolence, 
charity, and generosity of this family seem to have shown no 
limit, communal, social or otherwise... There is only one word 
which I cannot help saying. There is a feeling now all over 



343 

the country, some kind of misapprehension about zamindars as 
a class as being inimical to the people of the country at large. 
I wish any country could show such an example of liberality 
and generosity on the part of the landlords." 

Account of State-purchase. As regards the account of 
State-purchase as a financial transaction, T have a few points 
to urge. It appears that Madras, with its Raiyatwari System 
operating over nearly two-thirds of the Province, collects a 
gross land revenue of about 4 crores 79 lakhs from 92,866 
square miles as against 58,000 square miles under Permanent 
Settlement in Bengal, producing a net revenue of 2 crores 15 
lakhs, while the cost of collection amounts to a crore and 0, half 
in Madras. Over and above this, the average of remissions 
in Madras during the last 5 years amounted to 10 per cent, of 
total land revenue demand. On this basis, it would appear 
that Bengal under Permanent Settlement gets a revenue of 
approximately Rs. 370 per square mile as against Rs. 300 in 
Madras under Raiyatwari System. 

Its Terms. My second point concerns the terms of the 
Purchase. In my opinion, ten years' purchase as proposed in 
the Report will hit hard the small landlords who number 
several millions, and are bound to consider the price as not at 
all an adequate compensation. Firstly, most of them believe 
more in the stability of land as a source of livelihood than 
even in the stability of the State, especially in the present 
supremely unstable conditions of world-politics, and are now 
clinging fast to land as to a sort of anchor in a vast ocean of 
change, with its surging waves and tides sweeping away all 
other kinds of property. Thus the acquisition of landed 
property to which a new value is being imparted by world- 
conditions will w)t carry the consent of its owners, and will 
have to be a compulsory acquisition which should consequently 
be carried out in accordance with the established law governing 
Such compulsory acquisition. What is proposed, however, in 
the Report may be likened to a candle burning at both ends. 
J^ mere 10 years' purchase is to be coupled with the condition* 
that the sale-price is to be paid not in cash but in bonds, and 
bonds carrying only 4 per cent, interest, which means that a 
small peasant proprietor, having an income of Rs. 100 from 
land, will have the satisfaction of being pensioned off by the 
State with a modest income of Rs. 40. Even such an attack 
on property can be justified if it is part of a general scheme 
for the abolition of private property and the refashioning of 



344 

the State on communistic principles after the model of the 
U.S.S.R- I do not know how far this country can be built up 
afresh on these new foundations. 

In some cases, where the charges of collection are less than 
18 per cent, as assumed in the Report, the extent of 
expropriation to be caused by 10 years' purchase will! be 
greater than 60 per cent. A sample of such actual oases may 
be described to prove this. An estate has gross assets of 
Rs. 1,000 out of which it pays Rs. 700 to its superior landlord, 
and Rs. 50 as charge of collection, so as to realise a net income 
of Rs. 250. According to the Report, there is to be a 
deduction of 18 per cent, collection charges of which the slvire 
in the present case may amount, say, to 12 per cent, or Rs. 120. 
This will reduce the net income of the estate from Rs. 250 to 
only Rs. 72. The expropriation in such cases, which are 
common all over the country, and especially in Burdwan 
Division to my knowledge, will amount to 70 per cent. 
Calculation of collection charges at /a uniform rate of 18 per 
cent, will thus produce anomalous results in many cases where, 
after meeting charges on account of revenue or rent, as [lie 
case may be, and cesses, the net profit will be less than 18 per 
cent. 

Indeed, the Report estimates the cost rate of collection at 
the high rate of 18 per cent, of the gross rental without 
mentioning any grounds for it, and in an arbitrary manner. 
It should have considered that, in the estates under Khas 
Mahal management employing highly salaried staff, the cost 
rate of collection is on an average only 9 per cent. It is 
admitted in the Report that, in the estates under private 
management or zamindars, the staff are generally underpaid. 
There is, therefore, no reason why, in calculating the net profit 
of zamindari estates, the cost of collection should be taken at 
double the rate established for khas-managed estates. In any 
case, it will be unfair to take more than 10 per cent, on account 
of cost of collection (including cost of litigation which is 
ultimately paid by tenants). 

A much better plan would be to allow 10 years' purchase 
on the basis of net assets that will remain after deducting from 
the gross assets only the charges due to revenue or rent, and 
cesses, without taking account of collection charges for the 
purpose. 

One cannot help remarking that these estimates and 
calculations are so worked out in the Report as to ensure that 



345 

State-purchase turns out to be a profitable transaction as far 
as possible. Its terms are not objectively settled, but have 
been determined by preconceived notions and formed opinions. 
On the one hand, the Commission professes that it proposes 
State-purchase on absolute grounds as a measure of advancing 
the agricultural interests of the Province, and not on the 
ground of profit to the State, but the terms it proposes for the 
purchase betray a desire for such profit, and not any regard 
for the ideal professed. 

I have also to comment on another important point in the 
account. One of the recommendations of the Commission is 
to ascertain the existing net income of debattar, wakf, and 
other religious endowments. No exact statistics are available 
as to the rental value of these estates. Their net assets, after 
making deductions due to revenue, rent,, cess and collection 
charges, may be approximately estimated at Rs. 1 crore 50 
lakhs, wakf estates alone being known to yield about Rs. 60 
lakhs annual income. 

At 10 years' purchase, the capitalised value of such estates 
would be Rs. 15 crores. At 25 years' purchase, as proposed in 
the Report, it would be Rs. 37 crores 50 lakhs. Thus an 
additional sum of Rs. 22 crores 50 lakhs will be required to 
maintain the incomes of these properties at their existing 
levels. "This means an additional charge of 110 lakhs per 
annum, and a corresponding reduction of the net profit 
assumed on State-purchase account in the Report to 1 crore 
13 lakhs on the basis of 10 years' purchase. 

Conclusion: Inadequacy of Bengal's Revenue. Tn 
conclusion, I wish to emphasise the vital point in the position 
of Bengal as a Province, the glaringly inadequate revenue 
assigned to the Province in proportion to the expanding needs 
of its vast population. Bengal has suffered grievously at the 
hands of the Central Government under a system of Federal 
Finance which has created inequalities of the burden of 
.Federal Taxation among the different provinces in India. On 
Bengal has been placed the largest burden of this taxation. 
The extent of the inequality to which Bengal has been made a 
Hctim will be evident from the following facts and figures 
stated in a Memorandum issued by the Government of Sir 
John Anderson whose fight for financial justice to Bengal 
should be remembered with gratitude by the whole Province. 

Meston Award. The first blow delivered by the Centre or 
Federation to the financial strength of Bengal was the Meston 
Award. 



346 

In consequence of this Award, taking the figures for pre- 
ireform days, for the year 1928-29, the residual revenue of 
Bengal which was assigned to her as & result of financial 
adjustment with the Centre is shown at Rs. 10 crores 97 lakhs 
to do duty for a population of 46-6 millions. At the same 
time, Madras Presidency was assigned a revenue of 17 crores 
53 lakhs to cater for a population of 42 millions. The Bombay 
Presidency emerged out of the deal more successfully, having 
bagged a revenue of Rs. 15 crores 22 lakhs to do duty for a 
modest population of 19 millions. 

How was this glaring financial inequality among the 
provinces created ? It was created simply by the inequality of 
Central deductions from the revenues of different provinces. 
The Central deductions levied upon Bengal amount to as much 
as Rs. 26 crores 77 lakhs as against Rs. 7 crores 67 lakhs levied 
on Madras, Rs. 4 crores 22 lakhs on the United Provinces, and 
only Rs. 1 crore 1 lakh on the Punjab. 

Federation has no concern for the consequences of these 
unequal deductions to the residuary provincial revenues. It 
has been only minding its own interest and looking to its own 
needs, exploring, from its own angle of vision, all possible 
avenues, ways and means, of raising its required Federal 
revenue, without any regard for the ordinary oanons of 
taxation. 

Taxation highest in Bengal. Bengal has been simply bled 
by Federation. Intrinsically, she is nearly the richest province 
of India, with a gross revenue of Rs. 37 crores 74 lakhs, but 
she has been rendered the poorest province in India to-day by 
the arbitrary adjustments of Federal Finance. The Centre 
has forced Bengal to part with more than two-thirds of her 
revenue. Bengal today bears the heaviest load of taxation of 
all the provinces of India, except Bombay! This may be 
proved by the figures showing the incidence of taxation per 
head in the different provinces. Taxation in Bengal per head 
is Rs. 7-8, as against Rs. 5-11 in Madras, Rs. 3-6 in the 
United Provinces, and Re. 1-13 in Bihar. The Central 
taxation per head amounts to Rs. 5-3 in Bengal as against 
Re. 1-11 in Madras, annas in the United Provinces, annas 14 
in the Punjab, and only annas 2 in Bihar. Bengal, with double 
the population of Bombay, has a revenue which is only two- 
thirds of Bombay's revenue. 

These figures prove the first point mentioned in the aforesaid 
Government Memorandum, viz., "Inequitable distribution of 



347 

revenues between the Centre and the Provinces", to which 
Bengal is the worst victim. 

Deficits. On the top of this injustice, a review of the 
Financial History of Bengal for a period of 12 years from 1921 
to '1933 shows how even before the Meston Award, Bengal's 
revenue was hopelessly inadequate for her needs. As the 
Government Memorandum points out, the sources of revenue 
assigned to Bengal were almost entirely inelastic, and its amount 
"bore no relation to the growing demands of one of the most 
Advanced and progressive provinces in India". All these 12 
years were marked by several deficit Budgets, and the total of 
these deficits exceeded 9 crores of rupees. Bengal had to meet 
these huge deficits by taxing herself to the utmost, and also by 
enforcement of utmost economy. Taxes, which even the 
Meston Committee had regarded as "unthinkable", Bengal was 
forced to resort to, taxes on amusements and betting, and also 
increase in the fees on general and court-fees stamps. And all 
these years Bengal was only able to meet her establishment 
charges, to keep her administrative machinery going, maintain 
peace and order. It was functioning only as a statical 
administration, promoting Peace but not Progress, and not as 
a dynamic administration fostering the material and moral 
development of the Province. 

Starving of Nation-building Departments. The effects of 
this inadequacy of Bengal's revenue produced what the 
Government Memorandum calls "Crippling effects on the 
progress of the Province" . These are writ large in the Budgets 
for Bengal's Nation-building Departments. Taking the 
figures for 1929-30, Bengal was able to spend per head for 
Education only about annas 4 where Bombay was spending 
more than a rupee, Madras about 12 annas and the Punjab 
about 14 annas.. The Departments dealing with Public Health 
and Sanitation. Irrigation, and other nation-building activities 
have been similarly starved. 

Bengal should get more Revenue from Centre. There can 
be no future for the Province when its intrinsic revenue is so 
hopelessly inadequate. A revenue of only 13 crores (secured,, 
under Niemeyer Award) cannot possibly do duty for a popula- 
tion exceeding 5 crores, when Bombay requires the same revenue 
to serve its own population of a crore and a half (without Sind). 
On the standard of Bombay, Bengal should have at least three 
times her revenue, when her population is more than three 
times that of Bombay. The situation will be very much more 
aggravated when the Census of 1941 w T ill show an increase of 



348 

Bengal's population from 51 to 55 millions. The only remedy 
to this desperate situation lies in Bengal's fight with Federation 
for more revenue and for payment of her just dues. For that, 
Bengal must fight with the united strength of a truly National 
Government, uniting all its communities, the Hindus and 
Moslems, in a common fight to secure the means of its national 
progress. Instead of this united front, Bengal is splitting up 
into communal divisions and factions, with a sort of civil war 
raging between the Hindus and Moslems in all spheres of her 
national life, legislative, administrative, and economic. Mere 
tinkering or piecemeal measures of reform, aiming at 
production of more revenue at the cost of the existing social 
and economic order, to be followed by increased strife of classes 
and communal bitterness, will not be able to cope with the very 
difficult and desperate situation created in the Province as a 
consequence of the initial inadequacy of the provincial revenue 
assigned to Bengal under Federal financial adjustments. 

RADHA KUMUD MOOKERJL 



INDEX. 

(The figures refer to paragraphs.) 



kbwabs 

consolidated with rents in 1793, 38 

imposed by Murshid Kuli Khan and 
Alivardi Khan, 25. 

meaning of, 26 

reference to, in settlement reports, 85 

Acquisition 

constitutional position regarding, 97 
cost of acquiring raiyati interests, 114 

of tenants' interests who have .sub- 
let, 111, 112, 113. 

of fisheries, 116, 117 

of royalties, 119, 120 

of zamindaries, proposed in 1832, 55 

Scheme 

advantages of, 94, 95 
calculation of cost of, 128 

financial, social and economic re- 
sults of, 89, 90, 91, 92. 

implications of, 138 
period needed to complete, 134 
'Agrarian 

Disputes Act, 60 
Alivardi Khan, 25 
Agricultural 

and Sanitary Improvement Act, 217 
banks establishment of, 298 
cess not recommended, 136 
college at Lyallpur, 223 
Credit- 
not affected by* restriction of co- 
parcenary, or maintenance of 
record-of-rights, 282. 

restriction of, to crops, 278 
restriction of, to income, 293 
short term recommended, 299 

Debtors Act in Bengal, 295 

Debt 

follows credit, 278 

in Bengal and Madras, 182 

in the Punjab, 192 

in the United Provinces, 200 

measures to alleviate in Madras, 283- 

287. 



Agricultural 
Debt 

measures to alleviate in the Pun- 
jab, 288-290. 

measures to alleviate in the United 
Provinces, 291, 292. 

Department 

development effected in the Punjab 

and United Provinces, 210, 211. 
need of extension in Bengal, 207-209 

Families 

average area owned by, in 
Bengal, 169. 

average area owned by, in Mad- 
ras, 179. 

average area owned by, in the United 
Provinces, 198. 

average income of, in Bengal, 170 
subsidiary income of, in Bengal, 171 

subsidiary income of, in the Pun- 
jab, 190. 

subsidiary income of, in the United 
Provinces, 199. 

Improvements, absence of, 82 
Income-tax, limit proposed, 135 

Labourers percentage of, in Bengal 
and Madras, 180. 

Loans extension of, 298 
Relief Act in Madras, 283 

Aman 

see paddy. 

Amendments 

proposed to section 32, Bengal 
Tenancy Act, 267 

proposed to section 38, Bengal 
Tenancy Act, 269 

proposed to section 64A, Benga' 
Tenancy Act, 313 

Appeals 

from revenue courts in the provinces 
visited, 319. 

from revenue courts in Bengal, re- 
commendation regarding, 319. 

under sections 104, 105, Bengal 
Tenancy Act, 274 



11 



Arrears of rent 

arrest for non-payment of, in the 
Punjab, 303. 

at the time of State acquisition, how 
treated, 104, 129. 

attachment of moveables for, not 
recommended, 315. 

how recovered in Madras, 302 

in Bengal, 305 

reduction of period of limitation, 316 

in boom period, 201 

Arthasastra, 18 

Aryans 

invasion of, 16 

Assets 

from raiyati rental and other sources in 
Bengal, 122, 127. 

of proprietors in the United Pro- 
vinces, 255. 

Aurangzeb 

rate of rent orderd by, 243 

Bamboos 



extended cultivation 
ded, 215. 



recommen- 



Banking Enquiry Committee 

estimate of value of produce in Ben- 
gal, 167. 

estimate of income of agricultural 
family, 170, 171. 

view of, regarding transfer, 278 

Bargadars 

area cultivated by, 112, 142 
grants of rights to, discussed, 145 
increase in the number of, 87 

loss of rights as tenants in 1928, 66, 
141, 142. 

recommendation regarding status and 
rent, 146. 

share paid by, excessive, 144, 145 

Barga system 

advantages and disadvantages of, 143, 
144. 

Bell metal- 
loss to manufacturers of, 237 

Cattle- 
improvement of, in Bengal, Punjab, 
and the United Provinces, 238. 

Ceded districts, 27 
Census 

classification in 1931, 169 



Certificate procedure 
history of, 301 

in debt settlement work, 295 
no inherent defect in, 310 
withdrawal of, 301, 305 

Cess- 
paid by Madras pattadars, 175 
paid by Punjab proprietors, 184 

Chandra Gupta 
period of, 18 

Civil Court Procedure 

criticisms and suggestion for improve- 
ment, 308, 309. 

Clive 

grant of jaigir to, 27 

Coir industry, 235 

Colebrooke 

cultivated area according to, 242 
price of rice according to, 243 
yield of paddy according to, 164 

Collection cost of landlords, 123 
Colonisation in the Punjab, 191 
Committee of Circuit, 30 i 

Commutation 

abolished in 1928, 67 

of produce in Madras, 247 

of produce in the Punjab, 251 

rules, limit of rent, according to, 258 

Common agents 

appointment of, 279, 280 

Compensation 

flat rate recommended, 100 
for fishery rights, how assessed, 117 
obligatory for acquisition scheme, 99 
payment in cash recommended, 102 

Consolidation of holdings 
in the Punjab, 157 
in Bengal recommended, 157 

Co-operative societies 
in Madras, 285 
in the Punjab, 289 
in the United Provinces, 292 
in Bengal, 293, 297, 299 



Ill 



Coparcenary 

among landlords, 279 
among tenants, 281 
in holdings, 15*4 

Cotton % 

" forecasts of, in the Punjab unreli- 

able, 161. 
spinning mills, establishment of, 229 

Cottage industries 
in the Punjab, 223 
in the United Provinces, 224 
leed for, in Bengal, 225 

Court fees 

in uncontested cases, 315 

Court of Directors 

fixity of rent considered by, 37 
zamindars' claims considered by, 45, 
46. 

failure to protect raiyats, admitted 
by, 53. 

Court of Wards 

release of estates under, not recom- 
mended, 133. 

Credit 

see agricultural credit. 

"Cultivation cost 
in Bengal, 168 
in Madras, 247 
in the Punjab, 250 

Debattar Estates 

compensation for, 102, 105 



see agricultural debt. 

Debt Settlement Boards 

in Bengal, 290 (footnote), 295 
in Madras, 287 
in the Punjab, 290 

Stebtors Protection Act 
in the Punjab, 288 

Decennial period 

in relation to section 32, Bengal 
Tenancy Act, 264 

Demonstration parties 
in the Punjab, 221 
in the United Provinces, 224 
in Bengal, 225 



Departments 

co-ordination of, 240^ 

Development Act, 217 

Dewani 

grant and effect of, 28 
adalats, why established, 300 > 

Distraint 

in Madras, 302 
in the Punjab, 303 

in the United Provinces, abolished? 
recently, 304. 

in Bengal abolished in 1928, 300 

in Bengal, restoration not recom- 
mended, 312. 

powers of, under Hap tarn and Pan- 
jam, 51, 300. 

District farms 

need for establishing, 209 
Dofash area, 167, 213 
Drainage problems, 219 
Dravidians, 16 

East India Company 

direct collection of revenue by, 30 * 
early acquisitions of, 27 

Economic 

conditions in various classes of 
estates, 174. 

conditions in Bengal summarised, 201 

conditions compared with other*- 
provinces, 202. 

improvement by increasing yield, 
205. 

inquiries by Director of Land Records* 
156, 169, 173. 

Economic rent 
in Madras, 249 
not suited to Bengal, 262. 
theory of, 257 

Embankments 

protection of, 218 

Encumbered Estates Act 

in the United Provinces, 291 

Enhancement of rent 

as pcovided at the permanent* 
settlement, 36. 

as provided in the Rent Act, 58 
for fluvial actions, 270 



IV 



Enhancement of rent 

for improvements and by contract, 271 

for a rise in prices, 266 

grounds of, added in 1885, 6,~> 

in temporarily settled estates, 264 

more grounds for, than for reduc- 
tion, 204. 

suspended for 10 years, 68 

Eviction for arrear rents 
abolished in 1885, 300 
abolished in the United Provinces, 304 
in the Punjab, 303 
restoration of, not recommended, 315 

Execution cases 

limitation of one year recommen- 
ded, 316. 

Famine of 1770, 30 

Fee simple estates 

how compensates! on acquisition 107 

Fertility 

change of, by fluvial action, 270 
no general decrease of, 165 

Fertilisers 

extended use of, recommended, 212 

Fisheries 

loss of, owing to Permonent Settle- 
ment, 80. 

present position regarding, 115 

Fodder- 
improvement in supply of, 239 

Fragmentation of holdings, 157 

Fruit canning 

possibilities of, 232 

Fruit trees 

need for cultivation of, 215 

Fuel- 
scarcity of, 166, 215 

Government estates 

civil suits against tenants of, 305 
cost of management in, 124 
experiment of acquisition in, 109 

Government of India 

criticism of zamindari system by, 83 

Government of India Act 

makes compensation obligatory, 99 



Grant 

his view of the zamindars* status, 33 
his estimate of produce and rent, 242 

Haptam 

(Regulation VII of 1799) 51 

Hemp 

extended cultivation recomended, 
215. 

Historical introduction 
need for, 1 1 

Holdings - 

amalgamation of, 281 
area of economic, 172 
average area of, 169 
sale of portions of, 315 
uneconomic, 173 

Homestead s 

description of, in Madras, 178 
de.scnption of, in the Punjab, 189 
description of, in United Province, 197 

of landlords, how treated on acquisi- 
tion, 110. 



Horticultun 

in the Punjab, 223 

Husking of paddy 
extension of, 234 

Imperial Chemical Industries 

fertilisers manufactured by, 212 

Income-tax 

in relation to the Permanent Settle- 
ment, 74. 

Indebtedness 

see agricultural debt. 

Industrial development 
in the Punjab, 220 

in other provinces, need for enquiring 
into, 240. 

lines of, recommended in Bengal, 2*26 

Industries Department 

budget of, in the Punjab, 220 
budget of, in Bengal, 225 

budget of, in the United Provinces (see 
cottage industries). 

Inheritance 

laws cannot be changed, 155, 281 



Irrigation 

by pumps, 213 

in Madras, 181 

in the Punjab, 1 85 

in the United Provinces, 195 

problem regarding rivers, 214 

small schemes recommended, 213 

Jhum cultivation, 1 6 

Judgment debtors 

in adverse possession, 317 

Jute 
t 

forecasts unreliable, 161 

spinning mills, establishment of, 228 

Kaifiyat, 25 

Kb as lands 

of landlords, how treated on acquisi- 
tion, 110. 

Khasiiabisi, 25 
Khiraj, 21 

Khudkasht raiyats 
meaning of, 26 

King's rights 

growth of, 17, 20 

Lac industry 

reorganisation of, 233 

Land 

charges in the Punjab, 192 
value of, in Madras, 182 

value of, considered in resettlements 
* in Madras, 248. 

value of, in the Punjab, 192 

Land Acquisition Act ' 
principles of, 101 

J^and mortgage banks 

in Madras, 284 
^ in Bengal, 296 
J 
Land Revenue Commission 

appointment of , 1, 6 

concluding stages of, 8 

evidence recorded by, 4 

preliminary work of, 2 

recess work of, 5 

tours of, 3, 7 



Land tenure system 

in Hindu Period, 16-20 
in Moghul Period, 21 

not responsible for economic posi- 
tion, 89. 

present defects of, 80-8 
the triple system, 13 

Limitation 

full period of, generally used, 305 
of one year recommended, 316 

Management costs 
of landlords, 123 
after state acquisition, 124 

Manu, 17 

Manuring 

need for improvement in, 212 

Marketing societies 
in Madras, 280, 299 
schemes in the Punjab, 222 
schemes in the United Provinces, 224 

schemes in Bengal, development of 
recommended, 237, 299. 

Market value 

as basis of assessing rent, 259 

Menials 

expenses on account of, in the Pun- 
jab, 251. 

Milk supply, 236, 238 

Minerals 

acquisition, 119, 120, 121 

loss of, owing to Permanent Settle- 
merit, 80. 

rights in 118 

Moneylenders Bill 
in Bengal, 294 

Mongolians, 16 
Murshid Kuli Khan, 25 

Naib-Dewan 

appointed by Clive, 29 

removed by Court of Directors, 30 

Nawab of Bengal, 28 

Net assests 

how calculat/e4 in the Punjab, 251 



VI 



Net profit- 
of rent receivers, 123 
of pattadars in Madras, 247 



Non -Agricultural 
Act, 273. 



Lands Assessment 



Occupancy right 

as defined in rent Act, 58, 59 

as defined in 1885 Tenancy Act, 62 

increasing loss of, 87 

not attached to the land, 141 

Occupancy tenants 
in the Punjab, 187 

Oil mills 

establishment of, 230 

Oil rights- 
vesting of in the State, 121 

Ownership 

individual in Bengal from early 
times, 19. 

Pabna riots, 60 

Paddy -aman 

yield from forecasts, quinquennial and 
settlement reports, 162. 

yield from other sources, 164 
yield from random sampling, 163 

yield in other provinces and coun- 
tries, 166. 

need for increasing yield, 205-6 

Paikasht raiyats 
meaning of, 26 

Pan jam 

(Regulation V of 1812), 51 

Pargana rates 

uncertainty of, 36, 39, 265 
obliterated, 244 

Pattas 

areas of, underestimated, 243 
object of providing for, 38 

Pattadars' rent and cess in Madras, 175 

Patta regulation 

reasons for failure of, 47 

Peasant proprietors 
cesses paid by, 184 
in the Punjab, 184 
jointly liable for revenue, 250 



Permanent Settlement 

abolition recommended by majority, 97 

administrative advantages and dis- 
advantages, 75, 76. 

economic difficulties not due to, 79 

effect on different classes of zamin- 
dars, 34. 

financial loss resulting from, 72-3, 80 

indirect taxation, resulting from, 74 

litigation, resulting from, 85 

reasons for enacting, 46 

Shore's opposition to, 47 

social and economic results of, 77 

terms of, 44. 

Pitt's India Act 

enquiries following, 32 

Population 

area per head of, in Bengal, 172, 179 
(footnote). 

area per head of, in the Punjab, 190 
incidence of agricultural, in Bengal, 153 

incidence of agricultural, in the United 
Provinces, 198. 

incidence of agricultural, in Mad- 
ras, 179. 

Pottery industry 

development of, 235 

Poultry 

farming in the Punjab, 223 
farming, development of, 236 

Pre -emptiori 

landlords' right of, 67, 68 

Prevailing rate 

as ground of enhancement and reuuc- 
tion, 266. 

Prices * 

at Permanent Settlement, 243 

rise or fall of, in Madras assess- 
ments, 248 

Produce 

king's share of, 17, 41 

ruling power entitled to share of, 13-4, 

41. 
share fixed by Sher Khan, Akbar, 

Aurangzeb, 22, 26, 243. 

Productivity as a ground of assessment 
in Madras, 247 
in the United Provinces, 255 



Vll 



Questionnaire issued by the Commission 
vide Appendix II. 

Babi crops 

better cultivation of, 214 
possibility of extending, 213 

.Record -of -rights 

cost of revising, 126 
maintenance of, 282 

revision essential for acquisition 
scheme, 103. 

value of, 263 

Reduction of rent 
danger of, 93 
on fall in prices, 269 

under section 112, Bengal Tenancy 
Act, 276. 

Raiyats 

rights of, at the Permanent Settle- 
ment, 35, 40. 

in Hindu period, 20 

in Moghul period, 26 

summary of, 43 

undefined in regulations, 43, 51 

Relief of Indebtedness Act, in the Pun- 
jab, 288. 

Religious grants 

how compensated on acquisition, 106 

Rentr 

as share of the produce, 258 
competitive rates of, 245, 260 
oustomary rates of, 261 
fair and equitable, principle of, 262 
fixed on market value, 259 

fixing of, at resettlement in the United 
Provinces, 255. 

fixing of, in theory, 257 

fixity considered at Permanent Settle- 
ment, 37. 

fixing of, in perpetuity, 277 
incidence of, 174, 246 

level of, in Bengal and provinces 
visited, 203, 175, 176, 187, 194, 196. 

limit of, in the case of under-raiyata, 70, 
71. 

mostly lump rentals, in Bengal, 244 
payment of, in cash or kind, 272 
prevailing rate of, 265 
rate at Permanent Settlement, 241-3 

remission of, after State acquisi 
tion, 125. 



Rent- 
revision of, in permanently settled 

area, 276. 
theoretically the same as revenue, 14 

why included in debt settlement 
awards, 307. 

Rent Act 

chief provisions and defects of, 58, 59 

Rent Law Commission of 1879, 257, 262 
Rent sales 

in Madras and the United Provin- 
ces, 302. 

Rent suits 

history of jurisdiction over, 300 
procedure recommended for, 315 

summary procedure for, under sec- 
tion 148 (&), 306. 

Revenue 

arbitrarily distributed among rai- 

yats, 244. 

as share of the produce, 14-5. 
enhancement of, in Moghul period, 25 

how assessed and limited in Mad- 
ras, 247-8. 

how assessed and limited m the 
Punjab, 250-3. 

how assessed and limited in the 

United Provinces, 255. 
incidence of, in Madras and the 

Punjab, 175, 184. 

organisation in provinces visited, 312 
regular realisation of, in permanently 

settled areas, 75. 

Revenue courts 

advantages of and appeals from, 318-9 

in Madras, Punjab and the United 
Provinces, 302-4. 

recommended for Bengal, 311, 314 

should exercise administrative func- 
tions, 319. 

Revenue laws 

codification of, 320 

Revenue sales 

following Permanent Settlement, 5(] 
no change in procedure proposed, 133 

Ricardo 

theory of rent, 257 



Rice- 



(for yield see paddy). 

average family consumption of, 201 

output insufficient, 206 



Vlll 



Rice mills 

restriction on, 234 

Rig Veda; 17 

Royal Commission on Agriculture 
on co-operative supervision, 293 
on increase in population, 205 
on improved manuring, 212 
on irrigation, 216 
on marketing, 237 
on rural organisation, 209 

Salami 

effect of, on level of rent, 245 

Sale 

(see revenue and rent). 

of movables not recommended, 315 

Sale law in 1822 and previously, 54 

Select Committee 
of 1812, 52, 53 
of 1830, 55 
of 1925, 66 

Settlements 

short term by East India Company 
and its failure, 30, 31. 

revisional, in Madras, Punjab and 
the United Provinces, 248, 250, 255. 

revisional, in Bengal, 263, 275 
Shah Shuja, 25 

Shore 

his views of the zamindars' status, 33 

Silage, need for improving, 212 

Silk industry 

organisation of, 233 

Sinking fund, 125 

Siwai income in the United Provinces, 255 

Sliding scale of revenue in the Punjab 254 

Stamp revenue 

decrease after State acquisition, 131 

resulting from Permanent Settle- 
ment, 74. 

Statistics 

of crops, unreliable in Bengal, 159 
of acreage and yield, 160, 161 
tables of, Appendix IX. 



Subdivision of holdings 
causes of, 154 

Subinfeudation 

below the raiyat, 140 

below Madras pattadars, 176 

effect of, 78, 84 

growth of, below zamindars, 77 

Subletting 

discussion on, prior to 1885 Tenancy 
Act, 64. 

failure to restrict, 70, 147 
leads to rack-renting, 141 

measures recommended for stopping, 
148-9. 

prevention of, essential after State 
acquisition, 139, 147. 

Sub -Registrars 

might be used for maintenance, 282 

Succession- 

see inheritance. 

Sugarcane 

extended cultivation and fixing price 
of, 215. 

Sugar factories 

establishment of, recommended *. 229 

Tahsil offices 

cost of constructing, 126 

Taufir, 25 

Taxation 

equality of, in fixing rent, 262 

Temporary settlement 
not recommended, 132 

proposed in 1793 by Shore, 47 



Temporarily settled estates 
rate of rent in, 174 
under Government management, 108 

Tenants 



at will in tho Punjab, 187 



I 



classes of, in the United Provinces, 193 

Tenancy Act 

chief provisions of, 62, 66, 67, 68 

Tenancy legislation 
criticism of, 141 
proposals to amend, 61 
reasons for in 1859, 56 



Tenure -holders 

in Government estates, 109 
interests of, should be acquired, 98 

Terms of reference, 10 

(vide also Appendix I). 

Tobacco 

extended cultivation of, 215 
factories, establishment of, 231 

Todar Mai 

system of assessment of, 22-3 
system not applied to Bengal, 24 

Transfer 

account of, in tenancy legislation, 150 
as a means of improving credit, 278 
at the Permanent Settlement, 35 

discussions on, prior to 1885 Tenancy 
Act, 63. 

granted in 1928, subject to fee, 67 

granted in 1938, without fee, 68 

in early times, 17 

object of restricting, 152 

prevention of, to non -agriculturists, 139 

restrictions considered in Madras, 177 

UncuitivaWM area 

at Permanent Settlement, 50 

Under -raiyats 

failure to limit rent of and leases to, 70 
limitation on rent recommended, 149 

rights of in 1885 and 1928 Tenancy 
Act, 69, 70. 

^Unemployment 

of cultivators in Madras, Punjab and 
the United Provinces, 183, 190, 196. 

in Bengal, 225 

Uneconomic holdings 

applicability of section 32, Bengal 
Tenancy "Act to, 268. 

estimate of, 156 

in Madras, Punjab and the United 
Provinces, 179, 191, 198 

percentage of families owning, 173 



Urban areas 

raiyati status in, 272 

Vegetables 

extended cultivation possible, 21 

Veterinary staff 

need for training, 238 

Villages 

description of, in the Punjab and the 
United Provinces, 189, 157 

Village communities 
development of, 17 
system did not extend to Bengal, 19 

Waq f -al -al -aulad 

compensated at ordinary rate, 105 

Waqf estates 

compensation for, in bonds, 102 

existing income should be main- 
tained, 105. , 

Warren Hastings 

impeachment of, 31 

Water rate 

difficulty of fixing in Bengal, 217 

Waterways Board 

recommendation regarding, 219 

Wells- 
possibility of irrigating by, 213 

Yield- 
see crops, paddy, etc. 

Zamindars 

controversy over status of, 33 
different classes of, 34 
reasons for Settlement with, in 1793, 4o 
removal of, by Murshid Kuli Khan, 2.3 
restoration of, by Sujauddin Khan, 25 

rights ignored by East India Com- 
pany, 30. 

summary of rights, 42 



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